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 Will Defend Mom Who Faces Jail Time for Writing “Stop Putting Kids in Cages” in Chalk Outside of Rep. Ken Buck’s Office

DENVER – ACLU of Colorado announced today that it will represent Shauna Johnson, a mother of two who was charged with “criminal tampering” after she wrote “Stop putting kids in cages” in chalk on the sidewalk outside of Rep. Ken Buck’s Castle Rock District Office.

“Shauna Johnson is a concerned constituent who wanted to communicate an urgent message to Representative Buck in opposition to mass child abuse being perpetrated by the Trump Administration at the border,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “She did no damage and intended no harm, yet she faces an overly zealous criminal prosecution, a hefty fine, and even jail time.”

Johnson brought her two children, ages 2 and 5, to Buck’s office on June 6 to discuss the Trump Administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border and to say a prayer that Rep. Buck would work to stop the policy. After 30 minutes of discussion, in which Rep. Buck’s district director defended the policy and called media reports about child detention centers “fake news,” Johnson and her children left the building.

As they were leaving, Johnson’s daughter dropped a bag containing sidewalk chalk on the ground.  Johnson picked up the chalk and wrote, on the sidewalk outside the building’s entrance, “Stop putting kids in cages Ken Buck.” She added a cross and signed it “Jesus.”

“Family separation is a moral outrage, and I wanted to express that outrage,” said Johnson. “It never occurred to me that I was doing anything wrong, as I wasn’t damaging any property or blocking any doors. I was just speaking and hoping that my message would appeal to Representative Buck’s humanity and convince him to take action to stop the policy.”

Three hours later, a Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy came to Johnson’s house and issued her a citation for 2nd degree criminal tampering, a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 3 to 12 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine.

The deputy also told Johnson that if she returned to Buck’s office without an appointment, she could be charged with trespass.

According to the statute Johnson is charged with violating, a person commits criminal tampering if he or she “tampers with property of another with intent to cause injury, inconvenience, or annoyance to that person or to another.”

“There is not a single reported case in the history of Colorado where a person has been prosecuted for criminal tampering based on writing a message or drawing in chalk,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Adam Frank of Frank & Salahuddin LLC. “Clearly, this criminal charge is a response to the content of her message, not the conduct itself.  We’ll be asking the district attorney to dismiss this prosecution.”

Johnson’s first appearance in Douglas County Court is scheduled for August 19. She will be represented by Frank and Silverstein, as well as ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Sara Neel.

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