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  • 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 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.

    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.

Colorado Civil Rights Commission Finds Bakery Discriminated Against Gay Couple

May 30, 2014

FB-Marriage-CharlieDave-503x503-V05 (2)DENVER – The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that a Lakewood bakery violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.  At a public hearing today, the commission rejected the bakery’s appeal of an earlier finding of unlawful discrimination by an administrative judge.

David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2012, with Craig’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception.  Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado.  Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs the store’s policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods to celebrate a same-sex couple’s wedding.

“What should have been a happy day for us turned into a humiliating and dehumanizing experience because of the way we were treated,” said Mullins. “No one should ever have to walk into a store and wonder if they will be turned away just because of who they are.”

Long-standing Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.  Last year, an administrative judge upheld the Colorado Civil Rights Division’s finding of illegal discrimination by the bakery.   Today’s decision from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirms the prior ruling.  The commission voted unanimously to order a change in policy by the bakery, as well as staff training, and quarterly reporting to confirm that the business does not turn away customers due to sexual orientation.

“Religious freedom is undoubtedly an important American value, but so is the right to be treated equally under the law free from discrimination,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Everyone is free to believe what they want, but businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop cannot treat some customers differently than others based on who they are as people.”

Phillips admitted he had turned away other same-sex couples as a matter of policy despite Colorado’s law.

“Masterpiece Cakeshop has willfully and repeatedly considered itself above the law when it comes to discriminating against customers, and the Commission has rightly determined otherwise,” said Sara R. Neel, staff attorney with the ACLU of Colorado.

“This law was passed to protect the people of Colorado from experiencing the very same treatment Charlie and David experienced,” said Paula Greisen of King and Griesen LLP, which is representing the couple as cooperating counsel with the ACLU of Colorado. “Everyone who shops in our stores and conducts business in our state should be treated with equality and dignity. That’s what this ruling was about today.”

For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/charlie-craig-and-david-mullins-v-masterpiece-cakeshop



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