Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

2014 Carle Whitehead Bill of Rights Dinner

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We are pleased to announce our 2014 civil rights awards honorees and the featured speaker at this year’s dinner:

Bob Headshot 150wBob Connelly – Martha Radetsky Award

Bob Connelly’s legal career consisted of stints as a partner in law firms in Denver and Atlanta, as an executive with two major corporations and as a staff attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. In addition to his work on the board of the ACLU of Colorado, Bob has served on the boards of a variety of non-profit and grass roots organizations in the Atlanta and Denver areas. He has also been an adviser to and board member of start-up businesses in the technology, environmental, health care and marketing fields. While his passion for the work of the ACLU spans all of its activities, he is particularly focused on issues of economic justice and equality.

Harding Color Head Shot 150wVincent Harding – Carle Whitehead Memorial Award

Dr. Vincent Gordon Harding, who passed on May 19, 2014, was an historian, writer, teacher, counselor and longtime activist for social justice. He was an organizer in the southern freedom movement where he was a friend and colleague of Rev. Dr. Martin and Coretta King. Vincent directed and/or co-founded several institutions, including Mennonite House in Atlanta; the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; the Institute of the Black World; and the National Council of Elders. At his death, Vincent was professor emeritus at the Iliff School of Theology where he founded and co-chaired the Veterans of Hope Project, an interdisciplinary initiative on religion, culture and social justice history. His widow, Aljosie Aldrich Harding, will accept the award on his behalf.

Rovner Color Headshot 150wLaura Rovner – Edward Sherman Award

Laura Rovner is the Director of Clinical Programs at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where she also created and co-teaches the Civil Rights Clinic. Through the clinic, she supervises law students representing clients in cases involving prisoners’ rights and other civil rights matters, including constitutional challenges to their conditions of confinement including prolonged isolation, denial of outdoor exercise, and lack of adequate medical and mental health care. Prior to DU, she was a clinical teaching fellow in the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center and has also taught in civil rights clinics at Syracuse University College of Law and the University of North Dakota School of Law. She was also a staff attorney/Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Association of the Deaf.

dennis-parker-authorDennis Parker – Featured Speaker

Dennis Parker is the Director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. Prior to joining the ACLU, he was the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney. He also worked for 14 years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Other positions included work at the New York Legal Aid Society and the Criminal Defense Division in Brooklyn. He has published a book and numerous chapters and articles on a range of civil rights issues including housing discrimination, educational equity, affirmative action, and testing. He lectures extensively on civil rights issues and is an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

To inquire about ticket availability, please call Rachel Pryor-Lease at 720-402-3105.

We are also now seeking sponsorships for this year’s dinner, and we hope you will consider joining us as a key sponsor of this event. For more information about the sponsorship levels and benefits, as well as a form, please click here. If you have questions regarding sponsorship or would like to make your commitment over the phone, please contact Pat Blumenthal at 720-402-3118 or

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Justice Council:
Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP
Recht Kornfeld PC
The Sawaya Law Firm
Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP

Freedom League:
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP 
The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado
Haddon Morgan and Foreman
Holland & Hart LLP
Mendez Consulting
Carl J. Minnig Foundation
Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC
Reilly Pozner LLP
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Bob Connelly
Elkind Alterman Harston PC 
Heizer Paul LLP
Johnson, Brennan & Klein, PLLC
Kendall, Koenig, & Oelsner PC
King & Greisen 
The Law Office of Karen Steinhauser LLC
Syntrinsic Investment Counsel, LLC 
Vicente Sederberg

For information about the event, please contact Rachel Pryor-Lease at 720-402-3105 or

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