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. 

After ACLU intervention, high school student suspended for off-campus internet posting is back in school

Littleton High School junior Bryan Lopez, who was suspended from Littleton High School for posting satirical commentary about the school on the internet, is now back in school after ACLU attorneys reached an agreement with school district officials on Monday evening. The agreement averted a federal court First Amendment lawsuit that ACLU attorneys were prepared to file on Lopez’s behalf on Tuesday morning.

“I am pleased that Littleton school officials were willing to resolve this dispute without a lawsuit,” said Hugh Gottschalk, an ACLU cooperating attorney whose firm worked over the 3-day weekend on Mr. Lopez’s case. “A student’s right of expression is protected by the First Amendment. School authorities have some ability to regulate students’ expressive activities on school grounds and at school-related functions. But school authorities do not have the right to impose discipline for statements that students make off campus, especially when, as in this case, those statements do not cause any material disruption of the educational process.”

“Mr. Lopez used his home computer to post his commentary on the web site on February 7,” explained Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. The message contained satirical commentary about the poor physical condition of Littleton High School, the behavior and demographics of students and staff, the perceived racial biases of teachers and administrators, and the poor quality of the resources available to students.”

Once posted, the commentary was not accessible to students from any school computers, because the school’s internet filters block access to Nor was the commentary accessible to the general public; it was available only to specific persons to whom Mr. Lopez had provided a password. “Apparently one of Mr. Lopez’s classmates accessed the website, copied the commentary, and then re-posted it on his own website,” Silverstein said.

A couple days later, Littleton High School administrators obtained a copy of Mr. Lopez’s satirical commentary. On February 10, they suspended him for five days on the basis of a school policy that forbids students from engaging in conduct, either on campus or off-campus, “that is detrimental to the welfare or safety of other students or district employees.” The school superintendent then added an additional 10 days to the suspension, to give administrators additional time to decide whether to begin proceedings to expel Mr. Lopez from school. He missed six days of school before the ACLU and the school district resolved the controversy.

“The school district deserves credit for agreeing to resolve this issue promptly, allow Mr. Lopez back in school, and remove all mention of the suspension from our client’s school record,” Silverstein said. “Although the ACLU had a lawsuit prepared to file on Tuesday morning, our client risked missing even more days of classes while we waited for the court to rule.”

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