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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 Springs Orders Police to Stop Illegal Enforcement of Panhandling Ordinance After ACLU Steps In

September 30, 2015

In a remarkable turn of events, the City of Colorado Springs has ordered the Colorado Springs Police Department to immediately stop issuing citations for alleged violations of ordinance 10.18.112, titled “Soliciting on or Near Street or Highway”. It has also forbidden citations for most sections of ordinance of 9.2.111 “Solicitation Prohibited.”

The CSPD issued a sweeping department bulletin instructing its officers to “discontinue issuing summonses for Solicitation on or Near Street or Highway.” The bulletin also makes clear that “passive solicitation is lawful everywhere in the City.”

This action is in response to ACLU concerns outlined in a September 14th letter accusing the City of a widespread pattern of illegal enforcement of the panhandling ordinances against poor and homeless persons who were not in violation of the law.

Since 2013, the CSPD has issued over 900 citations for panhandling. The ACLU charges that at least 90% were issued for conduct that did not violate the ordinances, such as merely holding a sign that invites charity from passersby.

Colorado Springs City Attorney Wynetta Massey responded to the ACLU in a letter outlining the new policy and provided a copy of the revised CSPD bulletin.

“The Police Department and the City Attorney have now acknowledged that they have been citing, prosecuting and convicting innocent persons,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “We appreciate the City’s prompt decision to order police to stop enforcing the panhandling ordinances against persons who are not violating those ordinances.”

“As the police bulletin emphasizes, persons who solicit charity by passively displaying a sign inviting donations are not violating the City’s panhandling ordinances,” Silverstein continued. “Nevertheless, police have been issuing hundreds of citations. Instead of dismissing the tickets, the City Attorney’s office has prosecuted, and the Municipal Court judges have entered convictions and imposed sentences.”

The ACLU’s letter asserted that all three branches of the City’s justice system “played a culpable role in citing prosecuting, convicting and sentencing poor and homeless people, sometimes to jail, for a crime they did not commit.”

Silverstein said the police bulletin is a welcome first step, but more remains to be done. “The City Attorney’s Office must also dismiss all pending prosecutions against persons who were merely displaying a sign. In addition, it must also take steps to undo erroneously-entered convictions and sentences, including pending jail, fines or probation, that were imposed on persons who were merely holding a sign inviting charity.”

Read the ACLU of Colorado’s 9/14/15 letter to Colorado Springs: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2015-09-14-Massey-ACLU2.pdf

Read Colorado Springs City Attorney Wynetta Massey’s response to the ACLU’s letter: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2015-09-28-Silverstein-Massey-Response-to-ACLU-letter-of-09-14-15.pdf

Read the CSPD Bulletin: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2015-09-28-Silverstein-Massey-CSPD-bulletin.pdf

 



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