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?
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.
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.
Category Archives: Racial Justice
ACLU Sues Aurora, Prior Convictions Shouldn’t Prohibit People From Running for Office
May 27, 2021 DENVER – Today, ACLU of Colorado sued the City of Aurora for blocking a candidate with a prior felony conviction from running for public office. Candice Bailey, an Aurora resident and community leader for racial justice, intends to run for an at-large position on the Aurora City Council in the November 2021 municipal election. But the Aurora City Charter and City Code forbid her from being a candidate or holding public office solely based on her past conviction. “A city has.... | Read More
Support SB21-062: The status quo is killing us
You might know Michael Marshall as the mentally ill, homeless man killed by sheriff’s deputies in the Denver jail, but to me he was Uncle Mike. Son of John Marshall and Hattie Lee Black-Marshall, Uncle Mike was a loving man, willing to do what he could for his family and other people experiencing homelessness. He had a contagious laugh and presence that brought joy at holidays and Sunday dinners. Because he lived with schizophrenia and the stigma that goes along with mental illness and poverty,.... | Read More
ACLU Statement on Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict
April 20, 2021 MINNEAPOLIS — A jury has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd. The following statement can be attributed to Jason Williamson, deputy director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project: “George Floyd will never make his way home to play games with his daughter, Gianna. He’ll never go on walks through the park with his beloved fiancée Courteney or play basketball with his brother, Philonise. While.... | Read More
ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Douglas County School District, Sheriff and SROs for Handcuffing an 11-year-old Child With Autism
March 9, 2021 DENVER – ACLU of Colorado filed suit today against the Douglas County School District, Douglas County Sheriff and several School Resource Officers (SROs) after they aggressively handcuffed an eleven-year-old Hispanic child with autism and left him in a patrol car for hours, causing him to become so dysregulated that he banged his head repeatedly and sustained injuries. Without seeking medical attention, officers drove the child to a juvenile detention center and placed him in.... | Read More
ACLU of Colorado Statement on Governor’s Use of Clemency
December 23, 2020 The following statement can be attributed to Denise Maes, ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director. This afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced that he is exercising his clemency power to release four people from prison who deserve a second chance. We know these releases mean a great deal to these four families, and we are celebrating with them. In granting clemency as he has done, Governor Polis leads Colorado in a small step toward redemption and compassion. We note.... | Read More
ACLU and Civil Rights Attorneys File Class Action Lawsuit Against El Paso County Sheriff for Deliberately Denying Masks and COVID-19 Protections to Incarcerated People
December 14, 2020 DENVER – As COVID-19 raged throughout Colorado jails and prisons, and more than 800 detainees at the El Paso County Jail tested positive for the virus, jail staff told incarcerated people begging for help: “we’re just going to let the virus run its course.” On Sunday, ACLU of Colorado and three private attorneys filed a class action lawsuit against the sheriff in federal court. The lawsuit, based on hundreds of letters and dozens of interviews, seeks an expedited hearing.... | Read More
ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres
December 10, 2020 Seguido en español. DENVER – ACLU of Colorado announced today a $285,000 settlement on behalf of Jamie Alberto Torres Soto, a Latino man who was illegally ordered out of his home and unjustifiably beaten by Aurora Police officers who were called to investigate a noise complaint. The lawsuit detailed not only a vicious attack on Mr. Torres but a widespread pattern of racially biased policing in Aurora with little accountability. “While the size of Mr. Torres’ settlement.... | Read More
ACLU Report Finds Colorado Jail Depopulation Policies are Smart, Safe and Fiscally Responsible, Many Colorado Sheriffs Agree
DENVER – A new ACLU of Colorado report “COVID-19 Jail Depopulation in Colorado: An Unexpected Path Forward” found that jail depopulation in Colorado has been smart, safe, and thoughtful, with a clear focus on reserving jail beds for people who pose a threat to others. This report uses original data and research to assess the impact of depopulation policies implemented in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and calls on legislators to memorialize these policies into law in 2021.... | Read More
When Reform is Not Enough: Why we must reimagine safety
She was just sleeping in her bed, I think to myself. Even when we are resting . . . we are not safe. This past Wednesday, the announcement that the Louisville, KY police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor would not be charged for her death left a numb feeling in my stomach. News like this always hits hard, but gone are the days of expressed fear, disappointment or even rage. Nothing is more painful than the realization that the U.S. criminal legal system, a system heralded by.... | Read More
ACLU of Colorado Statement on Aurora Protester Arrests
September 18, 2021 DENVER – The following is a statement from ACLU of Colorado Interim Executive Director, Stephen Meswarb. “Yesterday, prosecutors issued a more than 30-page indictment against activists protesting the killing of Elijah McClain and systemic racism by the Aurora Police Department. It has been more than a year since Aurora police officers killed Elijah McClain, and prosecutors have yet to issue an indictment against the officers who took his life. This is not justice. Yesterday's.... | Read More
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