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. 

Antiwar sign can stay, Salida says, avoiding federal court faceoff with ACLU attorneys

The City of Salida avoided a federal court battle with ACLU attorneys yesterday, when it withdrew its threat to enforce its sign code against Debra Juchem, a local resident and business owner who erected an antiwar sign on the side of her downtown building.

The sign says “Kill one person and it’s MURDER. Kill thousands and it’s FOREIGN POLICY. STOP THE IRAQ WAR NOW!”

Several week ago, the City of Salida informed Ms. Juchem that the sign violates the City’s municipal sign code. The City threatened to begin an enforcement if the sign were not removed by September 18. Ms. Juchem asked for help from the ACLU of Colorado, and ACLU attorneys were ready to file yesterday in federal court to defend Ms. Juchem’s First Amendment rights.

“Our client’s sign is classic political expression that is squarely protected by the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution,” said Tom Macdonald, of Otten Johnson Robinson, Neff & Ragonetti, who is representing Ms. Juchem as an ACLU cooperating attorney. “Cities may have some power to regulate the size and placement of signs, but Salida’s sign code, especially as it is interpreted and applied by City officials, violates the standards of numerous court decisions that protect the right of individuals to express their views without unwarranted government interference.”

According to the ACLU, City officials have created an unwritten exception to the sign code’s provisions for “political signs.” Although Ms. Juchem’s sign is political, the City’s unwritten exception is restricted to signs that are “directly linked” to an upcoming election.

“If Debra added some extra words to her sign that urged the reader to vote for or against a specific candidate, the City would have had no problem with the sign,” explained James Potter, who also represents Ms. Juchem as an ACLU cooperating attorney. “In a letter to Ms. Juchem, however, the City stated that the current sign is not ‘directly linked’ to an election and therefore does not qualify for the unwritten exception to the code’s requirement of a permit.

“The City set up an unconstitutional regulation of signs on the basis of their content,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “Decades of Supreme Court case law explain that the First Amendment forbids the government to discriminate against expression on the basis of its content or its viewpoint. The City of Salida had no legitimate right to order Ms. Juchem to take down her sign.

The City of Salida has said that it will review its sign code and consider revisions. In the meantime, it agreed to withdraw its threat to begin an enfocement action against Ms. Juchem and her antiwar sign.

“Salida’s City Attorney deserves credit for doing the right thing,” Silverstein said.

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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