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. 

Declaration of Ashlee Shields

Declaration of Ashlee Shields

I, ASHLEE SHIELDS, state and declare as follows:

1. I am thirteen years old and a seventh grade student at Plainview School. I have one younger brother and one younger sister. Both of them are students at Plainview School too.

2. Plainview School is very small. There are four other students in the seventh grade besides me. They are all girls. One of these girls just joined our class a few weeks ago.

3. I do not belong to any church and I do not have any religious beliefs. I think that a person's beliefs about religion are personal and should be kept private. I am very uncomfortable whenever I am at an event where prayers or religious talks are given or religious songs are sung. I always feel left out or like I don't belong when this happens. I never know what to do. I don't want to stay and have to listen, but I get very embarrassed and self-conscious if I leave the room because then I call attention to myself and feel even more left out.

4. A lot of activities in our area are connected with the churches. My best friends all go to the same church and do most of their socializing at church groups or activities sponsored by their church. I'm not involved in any of these activities. Most of the time I don't go to community events either because I know there will always be prayers and religious music included.

5. I have been elected by the eighth grade to be an usher at this year's graduation and continuation ceremony for seniors and eighth graders. Only two seventh grade students are chosen each year to be ushers. I am proud and happy to be chosen as an usher. I have never been to a graduation and I think it would be exciting and interesting to go, especially because I know all of the seniors and eighth graders.

6. I am nervous about going to graduation because there has been a lot of discussion at school about whether there will be a prayer at the ceremony. If that happens, I will be uncomfortable and won't know what to do. I don't think I should have to just try to ignore the prayer and I don't want to have to leave the room because it makes me the center of attention and makes me feel left out.

7. Sometimes religion gets involved in other school activities too. All seventh and eighth grade students are required to take a choir class. Earlier this year, the seventh and eighth grade choir classes gave a concert. Our music teacher, Mrs. Fink, chose all of the songs we were going to sing. Two of them were religious and talked about being saved or remembered by God. Mrs. Fink told me that I didn't need to practice or perform these songs. She said I could stand quietly or go out in the hall while the choir was practicing. I was embarrassed to have to leave the room during part of class.

8. When we performed the concert, I left the stage when each of these songs was being sung. I was very upset about having to do that, and I wondered what people thought of me for leaving, but I also didn't want to just stand on stage and listen to the songs.

9. I don't think I should have to choose between listening to prayers or not being able to participate in school activities.

The above declaration is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Ashlee Shields

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