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  • 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: acluco.org/redemption. 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 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. 

Denver’s Park Banishment Program Ruled Unconstitutional

2/22/17

DENVER – A county court judge ruled this morning that Denver’s park exclusion directive is unconstitutional because it denies fundamental rights to due process.  The court dismissed all charges against Troy Holm, an ACLU of Colorado client who faced a year in jail for entering a park after he was banned under the directive.

“By authorizing police to issue so-called suspension notices that immediately made it a crime to enter a public park, Denver attempted an end-run around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.  “The court’s ruling affirms a bedrock principle of due process: the government cannot take away our rights without first providing, at a minimum, notice of the accusation and a fair opportunity to defend against it.”

The temporary exclusion directive was initiated by the Parks Department without an ordinance or vote of the City Council on September 1, 2016.  It authorized police to summarily banish people from city parks without a hearing, conviction, or other due process, based on mere suspicion of illegal drug activity.  According to the directive, a person “need not be charged, tried or convicted of any crime, infraction, or administrative citation” for a suspension notice to be issued or effective.

Denver officials justified the directive as necessary to combat what they characterized as a “huge epidemic of heroin use” and associated violent behavior in the parks, but an ACLU review of every suspension notice issued in the first five months of the directive revealed that expulsions primarily targeted persons experiencing homelessness who were suspected of simple consumption or possession of marijuana.  This despite a pledge in writing from the Denver City Attorney’s office to the ACLU that the “illegal drug activity” targeted by the program would not include marijuana.

On October 14, a police officer handed Troy Holm a suspension notice based on suspicion of marijuana use. Two days later, he was charged with a misdemeanor for violating the notice and for trespassing simply because he re-entered the same park.  The ACLU of Colorado filed a motion to dismiss on Holm’s behalf in December, challenging the constitutionality of the charges and the directive.

In siding with the ACLU of Colorado and dismissing the charges, the Court ruled today that, “As the park suspensions under Temporary Directive 2016-1 take effect immediately, within the pure unchecked discretion of any police officer on the scene, and with a complete lack of pre-deprivation Due Process, the suspensions violate procedural Due Process protections and are found unconstitutional for this reason.”

“As the court’s dismissal recognizes, Denver’s policy of banishing people from public places on the spot was an unconstitutional violation of Denver residents’ rights,” said ACLU of Colorado cooperating attorney Adam Frank, who represented Holm in court. “The judge’s order sends a strong message to the City of Denver that it cannot violate people’s rights with impunity.”

Resources:

Read the court’s order of dismissal: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017-2-22-Holm-order-of-dismissal.pdf

Read the ACLU motion to dismiss: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/motion-to-dismiss-final.pdf

Read ACLU Calls on Denver to End Unconstitutional Park Banishment Program



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