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  • 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: acluco.org/redemption. 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 https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • 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 resolves case on behalf of student arrested by Jefferson County officials for peacefully displaying a

CONTACT: Taylor Pendergrass, ACLU Staff Attorney, 303-777-5482 x104

Today the ACLU of Colorado announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Jefferson County School District on behalf of Blake Benson, avoiding a potential lawsuit. The dispute arose when Jefferson County officials arrested Mr. Benson for displaying a “Nobama” message on a t-shirt prior to an after-school speech by Michelle Obama at Dakota Ridge High School.

Mr. Benson was a junior at the high school on November 3, 2008, when Michelle Obama came to speak at the school. As attendees lined up to enter the gymnasium, Mr. Benson stood near the school’s main entrance wearing a t-shirt with a “Nobama” sticker taped across the front. Dakota Ridge school officials ordered Mr. Benson to leave. When he refused, officials had Mr. Benson handcuffed, searched, and arrested for “interference,” a charge that carries up to six months in jail and a $750 fine. Mr. Benson was also give a one-day suspension by Principal Jim Jelinek, who stated in a notice of suspension that, “Blake was directed to cease politically protesting on school grounds.”

ACLU cooperating attorney Dan Recht represented Mr. Benson in the criminal case and in May 2009 Jefferson County officials confirmed that they would not pursue the criminal charge. “Jefferson County officials were wrong to censor the peaceful, purely political speech of a high school student just a day before a historic national election,” stated Taylor Pendergrass, staff attorney for the ACLU of Colorado. “We should be encouraging civic engagement and political discourse in our high schools. Unfortunately, Jefferson County officials sent exactly the opposite message last November by arresting Mr. Benson for his expressing his political views.”

The Jefferson County School District and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office agreed to pay $2,000 each to settle claims that Jefferson County violated Mr. Benson’s free speech rights under the First Amendment and Article II Section 10 of the Colorado Constitution. Jefferson County officials do not admit to wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.

“What my teachers taught me about our constitutional rights wasn’t respected outside the classroom,” said Mr. Benson. “If one thing comes from this case, I hope it is that other students will learn more about their free speech rights and not be afraid to use them.”

Click here for a hi-res picture of Mr. Benson wearing his t-shirt on the day of the arrest.

About the ACLU of Colorado

The ACLU is a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and preserving the principles of the Bill of Rights through litigation, advocacy and public education.  The ACLU Foundation of Colorado works to protect the rights of all Coloradans.



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