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. 

City of Loveland Settles with ACLU over Detainment and Search

May 9, 2013

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado today announced a $35,000 settlement with the City of Loveland following the detainment and search of Johnstown resident David Kramer during a minor traffic stop by Loveland police on July 4, 2011.

Kramer was held in handcuffs for more than an hour and was subjected, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, to a search of his body, his wallet, and his vehicle by Loveland police, who gave no justification other than a claim they smelled marijuana, according to a letter that ACLU attorneys sent to the City of Loveland last fall.

“The courts have said that a smell of marijuana is probable cause for a search, and unscrupulous cops know that they can usually get away with falsely claiming to smell pot,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “In this case, however, we were prepared to prove that the officer fabricated his claim of smelling marijuana to justify and to cover up an unreasonable search that violated Mr. Kramer’s rights.”

Loveland police found no marijuana, and a drug dog brought to the scene failed to alert.

Kramer was on his way to the Post Office to collect his mail when he was pulled over by Loveland Police, who removed him from his vehicle and handcuffed him within a few minutes of the initial stop. According to the ACLU, Kramer was then forced to sit on the side of the road for more than an hour while police continued to question him without cause and search his vehicle without consent.

Courts have consistently found that a police officer must have an “objectively reasonable articulable suspicion” that a crime has occurred or is occurring to hold a person beyond an initial traffic stop, and an officer cannot use handcuffs without a reasonable belief of a threat or danger. According to the ACLU, Kramer was unarmed, and he calmly cooperated with all of the officers’ instructions and requests.

“The Fourth amendment exists to protect citizens from this kind of unjustified government invasion of person and property,” added Silverstein. “We are glad that the City of Loveland decided to avoid litigation and settle this matter out of court.”

Silverstein added that he hopes that statewide legalization of personal marijuana possession will reduce these types of traffic-stop searches, saying “Cops turning minor traffic stops into full-blown car searches for marijuana have been a frequent source of police-community friction. After Amendment 64, we hope Colorado police will be focusing their attention elsewhere.”

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