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  • 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. 

  • 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.

Federal Court Strikes Down Grand Junction Panhandling Ordinance

October 1, 2015

DENVER – Federal District Court Judge Christine Arguello issued a 39-page decision yesterday striking down Grand Junction’s panhandling ordinance, ruling that it violates the First Amendment rights of persons who wish to solicit charity in public places.

Wednesday’s ruling expands on an earlier order in the case, issued in June, which held that the ordinance regulated speech on the basis of its content. That ruling required Grand Junction to meet the strictest standard of judicial scrutiny. In Wednesday’s decision, the Court explained that Grand Junction had failed to justify its regulation of expression.

“The ruling striking down Grand Junction’s panhandling ordinance will have ramifications throughout Colorado,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “The reasoning of this decision, along with Supreme Court rulings earlier in the summer, signify that almost every panhandling ordinance in Colorado must be repealed or seriously amended.”

The ACLU of Colorado has initiated discussions with city attorneys in Denver and Colorado Springs about the need for repeal or for major revisions of their panhandling regulations. Police in Colorado Springs were recently ordered to stop enforcing most provisions of the city’s two panhandling ordinances.

Grand Junction adopted its ordinance in the spring of 2014, and the ACLU of Colorado filed its legal challenge before the ordinance went into effect. The challenged provisions made it a crime to ask for charity after sunset or within 20 feet of an ATM or a bus stop. Other challenged provisions prohibited asking for donations from people standing in line or seated at an outdoor café. The Court ruled that Grand Junction had failed to support its contention that the regulations were necessary to protect public safety.

Dozens of Colorado cities enforce similar regulations that prohibit asking for charity in certain public locations, at certain times, or in specified situations. The ACLU of Colorado encourages all Colorado city attorneys to immediately review the Grand Junction ruling and consider whether their panhandling ordinances must be repealed or amended.

“The ACLU does not object to carefully tailored regulations that target coercive, threatening, or menacing solicitations that actually invade the rights of others,” Silverstein said. “But we oppose, and the First Amendment prohibits, broad regulations that outlaw peaceful, polite, and nonthreatening requests for assistance.”

Along with Silverstein, clients in the case were represented by ACLU of Colorado staff attorneys Rebecca T. Wallace and Sara Neel.

Resources:
View the court decision: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Browne-v.-Grand-Junction.Order-on-cross-motions-for-s-j.09-30-15.pdf

Visit the ACLU case page: https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/3757-2/

Visit the Criminalization of Homelessness Campaign Page: https://aclu-co.org/campaigns/criminalization-homelessness/



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