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  • 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. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

ACLU Wins Free Speech Victory: Court Declares Englewood

CONTACT: Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director, 303-777-5482 x114

Today, the Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with the ACLU in a case challenging the constitutionality of the City of Englewood’s sign code. The case was brought on behalf of Mike Mahaney, an Englewood shop owner whose mural depicting an Alice in Wonderland scene prompted controversy and citations for allegedly violating the City’s sign code.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Court overturned a previous trial court ruling in favor of the city, declaring, “We conclude that the code’s special review procedure constitutes a constitutionally impermissible prior restraint on free speech.”

“This is a welcome victory for the First Amendment,” said ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “It is a valuable reminder that free expression is our most fundamental right and that government can never take lightly a decision to dictate what people may or may not say.”

Mahaney sells pipes and smoking accessories in his shop, Headed West. He painted murals on two sides of his store in an effort to deter graffiti vandalism. One of the murals depicted an Alice in Wonderland scene, including a hookah-smoking caterpillar and a white rabbit with a pill on its tongue. The City soon received complaints that the mural sent an “inappropriate” message regarding drug use. Although Mahaney painted over the pill, City officials were not satisfied. Mahaney’s employee, Mike Allard, was cited for three violations of the sign code, including failing to request a permit.

“These murals are artistic expression that is protected by the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution,” said Tom Macdonald, who is representing Mahaney as an ACLU cooperating attorney. When the ACLU responded by challenging the City’s sign code itself, the City agreed to postpone prosecution of Allard pending a ruling on the constitutionality of the code.

More information on this case, including hi-res photos of the mural, is available on the docket webpage.

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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