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 of Colorado announces settlement with Denver on behalf of student jailed for requesting police officer

Today the ACLU of Colorado announced a settlement with the City of Denver over the arrest and imprisonment of a student who was handcuffed, arrested and forced to spend a night in jail simply for asking for a Denver police officer’s business card.

The ACLU of Colorado represented Evan Herzoff, a University of Colorado at Denver student and local CopWatch volunteer. CopWatch is a national organization that monitors police and community interactions by observing and videotaping police activity, educates the public about police misconduct, and advocates for more accountable law enforcement practices.

On the night of April 8, 2006, Mr. Herzoff was walking home when he encountered police arresting an individual in the parking lot near 14th and Pearl. Mr. Herzoff began videotaping the arrest, and shortly thereafter was approached by two Denver Police Department officers. Officer Morgan demanded Mr. Herzoff’s identification. After examining Mr. Herzoff’s identification, Morgan told Mr. Herzoff that he was free to go. When Mr. Herzoff subsequently asked for Morgan’s business card, however, Morgan quickly changed his mind and told Mr. Herzoff, “Let’s take you to jail instead.” A trespass charge filed against Mr. Herzoff at the time of the arrest was later dismissed.

“The trespass charge against Mr. Herzoff was never valid,” said Taylor Pendergrass, ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney who represented Herzoff. “Even if Mr. Herzoff had been briefly standing on privately owned property, however, his arrest and imprisonment would have still been unconstitutional. Officer Morgan had already determined Mr. Herzoff was free to go. The arrest was made only because Mr. Herzoff requested Officer Morgan’s business card. An arrest–even a technically valid one–made solely in retaliation for an exercise of constitutionally protected speech violates the First Amendment.”

The settlement agreement, in which the City of Denver denies any wrongdoing, provides for monetary compensation, pending city council approval, to Herzoff and obligates DPD to issue a training bulletin negotiated with the ACLU of Colorado to all officers instructing them against such wrongful arrests. The training bulletin states in part that, “[N]o retaliatory action shall be taken against any member of the community based on [a] request for identification. Any exercise of discretion by an officer with regard to a decision to arrest, cite, detain, search or question and individual must be made without regard to whether that individual has requested the identity or business card of an officer.”

“The right of citizens to ask their police officers for their name and badge number is not only protected by the First Amendment,” stated Pendergrass, “it is also one component of rebuilding the community’s trust in the Denver Police Department. Officer Morgan’s decision to summarily punish Mr. Herzoff by arresting him and forcing him to spend a night in jail simply for asking for a business card demonstrates a disregard for Mr. Herzoff’s constitutional rights and has a chilling effect on all Denver residents. We commend the City of Denver for its willingness to reach a settlement in this case without the need for a lawsuit. We are hopeful that the training bulletin and public attention to this issue will send a clear signal that it is not only unconstitutional, but counterproductive, for DPD officers to retaliate against Denver citizens who simply want to know the identity of the officer with whom they are interacting.”

View Evan Herzoff's encounter with Denver Police here:

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