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. 

Colorado Springs Settles Racial Profiling Lawsuit Brought by ACLU

August 30, 2021

Seguido en Español.

DENVER – The City of Colorado Springs has agreed to pay $65,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Colorado alleging that three Colorado Springs police officers engaged in racially biased policing when they targeted Corey Barnes, a Black resident of the Springs, and detained him without cause, handcuffed him without justification and searched him illegally. Along with monetary compensation, the Colorado Springs Police Department has agreed to train all active police officers on the legal authority governing so-called “stop and frisk” encounters with civilians.

“What Corey Barnes endured is just one example of unconstitutional racial profiling and humiliation that Black individuals face on a daily basis in Colorado Springs,” said ACLU of Colorado cooperating attorney Faisal Salahuddin of the Salahuddin Law Firm. “City officials ultimately did the right thing by agreeing to fair compensation and additional training for officers.”

The federal court lawsuit alleged that on May 15, 2018, police arrived at a multi-building apartment complex, where they searched for a juvenile suspect. Police communications identified that suspect as a light-skinned, fifteen-year-old Black male, with a long brown afro haircut, wearing a zippered hoodie, who had ducked into a specific area of the complex. Despite having heard that description, officers detained, handcuffed and searched Mr. Barnes, who was 29, not 15; had very short hair, not an afro; was wearing a t-shirt, not a hoodie; and had departed from a different building than the one the suspect had reportedly entered. Even after a fellow officer advised the three officers that Mr. Barnes was not the suspect, they failed to release him. Instead, they kept Mr. Barnes handcuffed, illegally searched his pockets and wallet, and called in a warrants check. They also wrote deliberately misleading reports falsely suggesting they released Mr. Barnes when they learned he was not the suspect.

“Police had no grounds to detain and handcuff Mr. Barnes,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “Although the City argued that Mr. Barnes ‘matched the description,’ the only match was skin color. Police unjustifiably accosted Mr. Barnes because he is Black.” 

Mr. Barnes promptly submitted an internal affairs complaint. The resulting investigation did not criticize the unlawful detention or the unjustified handcuffing or the illegal search, though one officer received minor discipline for searching a civilian of the opposite sex.

“This settlement is a step in the right direction to help end racial profiling not just in Colorado Springs but throughout our state and beyond,” said Deborah Richardson, ACLU of Colorado Executive Director. “It is on all of us to create a world where people of color — all people — can move freely and without fear.”

The ACLU lawsuit alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable detention, handcuffing, and searches, as well as the Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits racial discrimination. Defendants were the City of Colorado Springs and officers Carlotta Rivera, Katelyn Burke, and William Watson.


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy. 

Colorado Springs resuelve demanda de perfiles raciales presentada por ACLU

DENVER – La ciudad de Colorado Springs ha acordado pagar $65,000.00 para resolver una demanda presentada por ACLU of Colorado, alegando que tres oficiales de policía de Colorado Springs actuaron con prejuicios raciales al detener sin causa a Corey Barnes, un residente negro de Springs, a quien esposaron sin justificación y lo registraron ilegalmente. Junto con la compensación monetaria, el Departamento de Policía de Colorado Springs ha acordado capacitar a todos los oficiales de policía activos en la autoridad legal que rige los llamados encuentros de “parar y registrar” a civiles.

“Lo que Corey Barnes soportó es solo un ejemplo del perfil racial inconstitucional y humillación que las personas negras enfrentan a diario en Colorado Springs”, dijo el abogado cooperante de ACLU of Colorado, Faisal Salahuddin, del bufete de abogados Salahuddin. “Los funcionarios de la ciudad finalmente hicieron lo correcto al aceptar una compensación justa y capacitación adicional para los oficiales”.

La demanda ante la corte federal alegó que el 15 de mayo de 2018, la policía llegó a un complejo de apartamentos de varios edificios, donde buscaron a un sospechoso menor de edad. Las comunicaciones policiales identificaron al sospechoso como un hombre negro de piel clara y de quince años, con un corte de pelo afro castaño largo, con una sudadera con cremallera, que se había escabullido en una zona específica del complejo. A pesar de haber escuchado esa descripción, los agentes detuvieron, esposaron y registraron al Sr. Barnes, que tenía 29 años, no 15; tenía el pelo muy corto, no un afro; llevaba una camiseta, no una sudadera con capucha y había salido de un edificio diferente al que el sospechoso habría entrado. Incluso después de que un compañero oficial les informó a los tres oficiales que el Sr. Barnes no era el sospechoso, no lo liberaron. En cambio, mantuvieron al Sr. Barnes esposado, le registraron ilegalmente sus bolsillos, su billetera y solicitaron una comprobación de órdenes de detención. También redactaron informes deliberadamente engañosos que sugerían falsamente que habían liberado al Sr. Barnes cuando supieron que no era el sospechoso.

 “La policía no tenía motivos para detener y esposar al Sr. Barnes”, dijo Mark Silverstein, director jurídico de ACLU of Colorado. “Aunque la ciudad argumentó que el Sr. Barnes ‘coincidía con la descripción’, la única coincidencia era el color de la piel. La policía abordó injustificadamente al Sr. Barnes porque es negro”. 

 El Sr. Barnes presentó rápidamente una queja a asuntos internos. La investigación resultante no criticó la detención ilegal, ni las esposas injustificadas, ni tampoco el registro ilegal, aunque un oficial recibió una disciplina menor por registrar a un civil del sexo opuesto.

 “Este acuerdo es un paso en la dirección correcta para ayudar a poner fin a los perfiles raciales no solo en Colorado Springs, sino en todo nuestro estado y más allá”, dijo Deborah Richardson, directora ejecutiva de ACLU of Colorado. “Depende de todos nosotros crear un mundo donde las personas de color y todas las personas, puedan moverse libremente y sin miedo”.

La demanda de la ACLU alegó violaciones de la Cuarta Enmienda, que prohíbe la detención irrazonable, esposas y registros, así como la Cláusula de Igualdad de Protección, que prohíbe la discriminación racial. Los acusados fueron la ciudad de Colorado Springs y los oficiales Carlotta Rivera, Katelyn Burke y William Watson.


ACLU of Colorado es la organización de derechos civiles más antigua del estado, que protege y defiende los derechos civiles de todos los habitantes en Colorado a través de litigios, educación y defensa.




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