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 sues White House staffers for ejecting Denver residents from Bush event

DENVER, CO – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a complaint against three White House staffers for illegally ejecting Denver residents from a taxpayer-funded town hall with President Bush, even though they had done nothing to disrupt the event. The residents, who have been dubbed the “Denver 3” by the media, were singled out because of an anti-war bumper sticker on their car.

“The president does not have the authority to ignore the First Amendment simply because he disagrees with someone’s views,” said ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Chris Hansen, who is lead counsel in this case. “There has been a consistent pattern from the White House of handpicking which Americans are allowed entry to public events. That is unacceptable when taxpayers of all political stripes are footing the bill.”

Today’s complaint was filed in an ongoing lawsuit on behalf of Leslie Weise and Alex Young, two of the three people who were thrown out of the Denver event on March 21, 2005. For nearly two years, the White House has refused to admit its role in the incident. But Michael Casper, a Republican volunteer at the event who is also named in the ACLU lawsuit, said in a deposition that two White House employees directed him to throw out Weise and Young.

Casper identified the staffers as Steven Atkiss, then-Deputy Director of White House Advance, and James O’Keefe, lead advance staffer for the Denver event. Atkiss now serves as chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection. The ACLU also filed a complaint against Greg Jenkins, then-Director of White House Advance, whom the ACLU said is responsible for establishing the policy to eject anyone from presidential events whose views are perceived to be different from the president’s.

“The White House should not be in the business of censoring Americans,” said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado. “Our clients were removed not because they were disruptive, but because they could ‘potentially’ engage in critical speech.”

Weise and Young had tickets to attend the Denver town hall on Social Security, but they were singled out after a staffer noticed a bumper sticker on Weise’s car that read, “No More Blood for Oil.” Weise was stopped upon entering the event, and warned by Casper that she had been “ID’d,” and that she would be arrested if she had any ill intentions. She was then allowed to enter, but Casper came back and forcibly removed Weise and Young after receiving official orders from O’Keefe and Atkiss.

“No one should be punished for peaceful expression of a viewpoint at a public event,” Weise said. “Our lawsuit seeks to ensure that this conduct will not happen again in America.”

The ACLU said that the Denver incident is not isolated. Other Americans have been forced to leave open-to-the-public presidential visits around the country. Individuals considered to have critical viewpoints were removed or excluded from Social Security town hall meetings in Arizona, North Dakota and New Hampshire.

The Denver case is Weise v. Jenkins and is in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. In addition to Hansen and Silverstein, attorneys in the case are Catherine Crump of the national ACLU and Martha Tierney and Jerremy Ramp of Denver-based law firm Kelly Haglund Garnsey & Kahn, who are acting as ACLU of Colorado cooperating attorneys.

Weise and Young have created their own Web site with background information on the incident at:

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