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.

Goodbye From Nathan Woodliff-Stanley

On my last day at the ACLU of Colorado, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to have led this essential, impactful organization for the last 7 ½ years. I had no idea I would be leaving in the middle of a pandemic, but even this crisis illustrates the critical work of the ACLU, where we have sought to reduce immediately the crowding of people in jails, prisons, and detention centers, protecting people’s rights along with public health simultaneously.

As the current crisis evolves, and with the 2020 elections looming, we are sure to see many more short-term and long-term civil rights and civil liberties issues, including attacks on reproductive rights, privacy, and immigrants’ rights, not to mention the fundamental health and structures of our democracy. As the ACLU of Colorado responds, you will be in good hands. Deputy Director Stephen Meswarb will be our Interim Executive Director during the executive search process over the next several months. Our Communications team led by Director of Communications Vanessa Michel will be more important than ever as we do more work remotely and digitally during the pandemic. Our Legal Director Mark Silverstein, Public Policy Director Denise Maes, and Campaigns Director Delana Maynes continue to lead their departments to advance our work in the courts, in the legislature and policy world, and in community action and voter engagement. Director of Philanthropy Rachel Pryor-Lease will lead our efforts to bring in the funds we will need more than ever, and Director of Operations Caryn Osterman will keep our logistics and technology on track even when we must work from our homes.

After today, if you have questions appropriate for the Executive Director, or if you want to know how to reach me personally, please contact Stephen at Thank you for your own commitment and support for the ACLU of Colorado. We are here to lift up the rights, voices, and lives of all people in Colorado, not only for the sake of a privileged few, but centering those most publicly invisible, most likely to be forgotten, most hurting and unheard. Justice, freedom, rights, compassion and belonging must be for all.

 Nathan Woodliff-Stanley

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