Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

Aurora Pays 75K to Settle Two ACLU Police Misconduct Lawsuits

DENVER – The City of Aurora has agreed to pay $75,000 to ACLU of Colorado clients Omar Hassan and Dwight Crews, two black men who sued over separate incidents of mistreatment by the Aurora Police Department.

According to an ACLU lawsuit filed in September 2017, two Aurora police officers ordered Hassan to leave a coffee shop after telling him, “Your kind of business is not welcome here.”  He will receive $40,000.

Crews, a disabled 60-year-old man, was removed from his home without a warrant in the middle of the night, restrained, thrown to the ground, and unlawfully arrested by Aurora police. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on his behalf in November 2017. He will receive $35,000.

“These settlements add to a multi-year trend of taxpayers footing the bill, in case after case, as Aurora police officers are repeatedly sued for violating the constitutional rights of people of color,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “How many lawsuits will it take?  The Aurora Police Department needs to do some serious self-examination regarding how its officers respond to persons of color, and the city must establish an independent system of accountability.  The alternative is a further decline in community trust, more incidents, and more lawsuits.”

See below for a map of Aurora police incidents involving people of color. 

On March 16, 2016, Omar Hassan entered a Caribou Coffee in Aurora and approached the counter to purchase a muffin. He had just finished a night shift at work and was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, and work boots. Two Aurora police officers followed Hassan to a table, stood directly over him with their hands on their guns, and commanded him to leave.  When Hassan asked why, one of the officers responded, “Your kind of business is not welcome here.”

According to the ACLU lawsuit, the officers’ targeting of Hassan based on his dress, followed by their choice of words in removing him from a place of public accommodation, made his experience “unique in its reflection of both historical and modern-day racism.”

On November 14, 2015, Aurora Police visited Dwight Crews’ home at 2 a.m., about two hours after he intervened to stop his stepdaughter from being physically abused by her husband.  The officers, who had no warrant, banged loudly on his door, flashed lights in his windows, and threatened to break into the home if he did not come out.

When Crews came to the door, the officers ordered him to step out onto his porch.  As they started to pat him down, he noticed his cat, pointed, and said, “My cat’s outside!”  One of the officers threw Crews to the ground, slamming his body on top of jagged loose rocks.  Crews, whose spine was damaged from a previous car accident, sustained multiple, lasting injuries.

Last July, Aurora paid $110,000 to settle claims of ACLU client Darsean Kelley, a young black man who was tased in the back as he said, “I know my rights.”

“In too many cases, we hear of persons of color being mistreated by the law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect them,” Silverstein said. “The ACLU will continue pushing city officials and police departments to address this problem in Aurora, in Colorado, and throughout the country.”


ACLU Sues Aurora Police for Ousting Black Man in Hoodie from Coffee Shop

ACLU Lawsuit: Aurora Police Used Excessive Force during Unlawful Arrest of Disabled 60-Year-Old Black Man

Aurora Pays $110K for Unlawful Detention and Tasing of Darsean Kelley


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.

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