Colorado Rights Blog

ACLU of Colorado By: ACLU of Colorado 11.16.2016

Make Colorado a Civil Liberties Safe Zone

(Also published on the Huffington Post at:

The rights and freedoms promised in the U.S. Constitution are the pride of our nation, and our history is defined by a constant struggle to make those promises real for all people, not just for some. For nearly a century, the ACLU has been at the forefront of defending and advancing these civil liberties, with many landmark successes.

Now our Constitutional rights have been placed in serious danger with the election of a President who has threatened to resume torture, deport millions of immigrants, expand stop-and-frisk practices, enact a ban on Muslims entering our country, restrict freedom of the press, overturn abortion rights, allow LGBT rights to be gutted, and much more. The ACLU is readying itself to fight against multiple national challenges to our civil rights and liberties in the months and years ahead, and the ACLU of Colorado will be deeply engaged in that struggle.

At the same time, we must all work together to advance civil liberties in our home state, a task now more important than ever. There is plenty to build upon here. Colorado is a diverse state with a reputation for valuing personal freedom and a fair chance for everyone. In the aftermath of the Patriot Act in 2001 and the threats to privacy and freedom that it unleashed, several Colorado communities declared themselves Civil Liberties Safe Zones, illustrating Colorado’s belief in civil liberties. Now with many Colorado residents feeling less safe than ever, the ACLU of Colorado calls upon our local and statewide leaders to make all of Colorado a Civil Liberties Safe Zone—and to act to make that promise real!

Sign the pledge and tell your local and statewide leaders to protect the rights of all Coloradans.

What would it look like for Colorado to be a Civil Liberties Safe Zone? It is not words that matter, only the policies we actually adopt and follow. And there are real opportunities to protect and advance civil liberties in Colorado regardless of how our national fight unfolds. It is time to affirm our state identity at its best and declare our commitment to these and other civil liberties:

· Freedom of Speech, Protest and Press. Colorado must never tolerate attacks on the rights of all people to gather and express their views in this state, even—or especially—when critical of our government or leaders.

· Voting Rights. Colorado has some of the best voting laws in the nation, but there are still ways to improve those laws so all adult citizens can vote, and we must hold the line against voter suppression.

· Rights in the Criminal Justice System. Colorado must not accept ongoing mass incarceration, excessive force or racial bias in policing, shortcuts around due process, any expansion of the war on drugs, criminalization of poverty, or excessive punishments on children or adults, including torture, extended solitary confinement, unnecessarily long sentences, and the death penalty.

· Immigrant Rights. Colorado must honor the lives and rights of all people living in our communities, resisting any attempts at mass deportation that would rip families apart, wreck communities and our state economy, and co-opt local police as federal agents.

· Privacy and Freedom from Government Surveillance. Colorado boasts a growing technology community that makes our state a focal point for defining privacy rights and holding the line against intrusive government surveillance of our digital and personal lives.

· Reproductive Rights. Colorado voters have repeatedly affirmed women’s reproductive freedom, including abortion and contraceptive rights, and it is critical that Colorado remain a safe haven for these rights no matter what happens in other states or in the U.S. Supreme Court.

· LGBT Rights. Colorado must not allow hard-won marriage rights to be reversed or dissolved, and discrimination against LGBT persons must be stopped.

· Religious Freedom for All. Colorado should be a safe place for people of any or no religion, never allowing government to attack any one religion, impose religious practices, or promote discrimination in the name of religion.

No matter what happens nationally, Colorado can use our state courts, state Constitution, and state legislature to build upon our culture of freedom and civil liberties. Our state has worked across partisan lines to advance criminal justice reform, voting rights, LGBT rights, drug policy, privacy, and the rights of people living in poverty. There is so much more we need to fight for, and every victory in Colorado will help us win nationwide. We will never give up, and neither should our leaders. Colorado and our nation must keep moving forward, not backwards.

Already, we are seeing signs of a groundswell of support for civil liberties in Colorado. More than ever, we need Coloradans to come together in vigilant support of civil rights and civil liberties for everyone. Let’s make all of Colorado “A Civil Liberties Safe Zone!”

Sign the Pledge:

Become a member of the ACLU of Colorado:

Donate to support our work:

Become a volunteer ACLU activist:



  • 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.