Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

ACLU and Longmont Reach $210K Settlement over Warrantless Searches

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado and the City of Longmont jointly announced a settlement this morning on behalf of four individuals, Alice Boatner, Billy Sparling, Michael Kealy, and Christine Herrera, who were subjected to an illegal search of their residences at the Suites, a public housing complex in Longmont.  The searches were conducted in May by Longmont police officers and a K-9, in conjunction with the Longmont Housing Authority.  They were conducted without a warrant or any arguable exception to the warrant requirement.  None of the ACLU’s clients consented to the search or were given an opportunity to refuse the search.  The settlement resolves claims against the City of Longmont only, and there has been no resolution to date with the Longmont Housing Authority.

Key aspects of the settlement:

  • $210,000 total payment for damages and attorneys’ fees;
  • Release to the public of the Weld County Sheriff’s investigation report, likely by Dec. 31, 2017;
  • Public statement by the City of Longmont correcting past misstatements by acknowledging that the ACLU’s clients did not consent to the search and had no opportunity to refuse the officers’ entry;
  • Public forum in Longmont where the ACLU and its clients will have an opportunity to speak about the incident;
  • Availability of a restorative justice process to all clients; and an
  • Opportunity for ACLU input on Longmont Police Department policies related to searches.

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Rebecca T. Wallace:

“The ACLU of Colorado commends the meaningful and genuine efforts by the City of Longmont to acknowledge the seriousness of the illegal searches at the Suites, to take corrective action, and to begin healing the wounds of our clients and the community.

“A settlement without litigation was possible only because of the goodwill and commitment to accountability and improvement that the City of Longmont brought to the process.  It was Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler who first contacted the ACLU and expressed his regret for what occurred and his desire to heal the rift in trust between his department and the community.  Since the incident, Chief Butler has re-trained his entire staff on the requirements for lawful searches, emphasizing what constitutes voluntary consent.  The City also pushed for a prompt settlement process that avoided litigation and allowed for faster resolution.

“The settlement includes several non-monetary components aimed at transparency and accountability that were—to his great credit—suggested by Chief Butler, including holding a public forum to discuss the searches and the opportunity for our clients to engage in a restorative justice process with the officers who violated their rights.  The City of Longmont also agreed to issue a public statement correcting past inaccurate statements about the searches, and – of particular importance to our clients – Chief Butler and City leadership gave them a personal and heartfelt apology

“The ACLU, our clients, and the public now await public release of the Weld County investigation report and Chief Butler’s decision regarding discipline of the involved officers, both of which are essential to the principals of transparency and accountability.

“While this settlement resolves our clients’ claims against the City of Longmont, the Longmont Housing Authority shares at least as much blame for the illegal searches.   LHA must still be held to task for its violation of our clients’ rights and trust.”

Statement of Alice Boatner, ACLU client:

“I did not have any opportunity to stop a police officer and K-9 from coming into my home and searching it.  I felt violated, powerless and demeaned.  Thanks to this agreement and Chief Butler’s actions, I can now begin to heal.”


View the settlement agreement:

View the ACLU’s notice of claims against the Longmont Housing Authority:


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.

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