Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • 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.

ACLU of Colorado 2016 Bill of Rights Dinner


The ACLU of Colorado’s Bill of Rights Dinner (formerly known as the Carle Whitehead Bill of Rights Dinner) is an annual event where we come together to celebrate our victories, honor our leaders, and inspire our community to continue the critical work of defending and preserving civil rights and civil liberties for all.  All funds raised by the Bill of Rights Dinner provide crucial support to sustain and expand the ACLU of Colorado’s vital legal, advocacy, communication, and education work throughout the state.


Keynote Speaker Dale Ho

Dale Ho headshot

Dale Ho is the Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. His work includes litigation to combat voter suppression and legislative advocacy to open new opportunities for participation for the historically disenfranchised. He has litigated cases under the federal Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act, including Shelby County v. Holder (defending the constitutionality of Sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court); Ohio NAACP v. Husted (challenging early voting cutbacks in Ohio);Frank v. Walker (challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law);League of Women Voters of NC v. North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration in North Carolina). Dale has testified on election reforms in various state legislatures around the country, and is a frequent commentator on voting rights issues, appearing on television programs including Hardball with Chris Matthews; the Melissa Harris-Perry Show; and Live with Thomas Roberts.

Meet our 2016 Honorees:

John Parvensky – Carle Whitehead Memorial Award

John Parvensky_2 (3)John Parvensky has served as the President of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless since 1986, directing programs that deliver permanent supportive housing programs together with integrated healthcare, mental healthcare and substance treatment services to 15,000 homeless, men, women and children each year. He has also spearheaded the production of 16 integrated housing developments that combine high-quality housing for homeless individuals and families with affordable units for community residents with lower incomes, resulting in homes for 2,300 households. He has championed health care and housing as human rights both locally and nationally.  Mr. Parvensky serves as President of the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for the Homeless. He is a member of Denver’s Commission to End Homelessness.  He is a member of the National Health Care for the Homeless Board of Directors and a member of the community advisory board of JPMorgan Chase Bank. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Senator Jessie Ulibarri – Ralph Carr Award

Jessie HeadshotSenator Jessie Ulibarri represents Senate District 21. In this role, he successfully authored and passed into law 39 pieces of legislation, including protecting the rights of workers, expanding access to affordable housing, safeguarding civil liberties, and ensuring full access to the ballot box. He is responsible for Colorado’s wage theft law, the statewide prohibition on the use of credit scores in hiring, the state’s driver’s license program for undocumented workers, the largest investment in affordable housing in the state’s history, the prohibition on the state’s use of solitary confinement for individuals with mental health issues, and the expansion of mail ballots for all elections in Colorado. He will be leaving elected office at the end of this term to focus on his new role at Wellstone. Before joining the State Senate, Jessie spent a decade leading community organizing and public policy efforts, including as the Public Policy Director at the ACLU of Colorado, State Director at Mi Familia Vota, the Campaign Director at Colorado Progressive Coalition, and as a congressional staffer for Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL-4). He spent his earliest years of life in a trailer park and, as a low-income gay Latino, the overwhelming societal message he received growing up was that he and his community were disposable and without value. Those early years of life set him on a lifelong path to build a democracy where everyone is in, no one is out, no exceptions.

Gail Johnson – Edward Sherman Award

Gail Johnson headshotGail Johnson is the managing partner of Johnson, Brennan & Klein in Boulder, where her criminal defense and civil rights practice encompasses trials, appeals, state post-conviction proceedings, federal habeas, and death penalty defense.  She has two decades of experience representing clients in criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts and has trained other lawyers and law students in her areas of expertise. In three actual-innocence cases, she has obtained orders for new trials for clients based on constitutional violations and newly discovered evidence.  Her prisoners’ rights advocacy has resulted in improved medical care and less restrictive conditions of confinement for clients in federal and state prisons. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Act panels for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  She began her legal career as an E. Barrett Prettyman fellow with the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic in Washington, D.C., and later served as a law clerk to then-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Michael L. Bender.  She received her J.D. from Yale Law School.



We are 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 benefitsplease click here. If you have questions regarding sponsorship or would like to make your commitment over the phone, please contact Rachel Pryor-Lease, Stewardship and Events Manager, at 720-402-3105 or

Thank you to our 2016 sponsors!

Circle of Liberty

Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP

Justice Council


Recht Kornfeld PC

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Freedom League

The Advocates/Marcus Ollig

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Carl J. Minnig Foundation

Gleam Car Wash

Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, PC

Holland & Hart LLP

Johnson, Brennan & Klein

King & Greisen LLP

Mendez Consulting

The Sawaya Law Firm

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell



Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center

Bob Connelly

Elkind Alterman Harston PC

Kathleen MacKenzie

Lee & Sandy Mulcahy, in memory of Edward Lee “Bud” Mulcahy

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Williams & Daley LLC



Laurie and Chris Steuri

Davis Graham & Stubbs

Wellstone Action

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