The ACLU of Colorado’s Legal Department works to protect and defend civil liberties through litigation as well as legal advocacy outside the courtroom. With five full-time attorneys on staff, the ACLU also relies on the work of dedicated volunteer cooperating attorneys from around the state who are willing to donate their time and talent to assist our struggle for liberty.
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?
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.
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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.
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.
Litigation & Legal Advocacy
Ledonne v. Adams State University
The ACLU of Colorado filed suit on behalf of Danny Ledonne, a former professor who was banned by school officials from the Adams State University campus in Alamosa, CO after he created a website criticizing various university administration practices.
From May 2011 to June 2015, Ledonne taught in the Mass Communications program and performed video....
Colorado Springs Unlawful Enforcement of Panhandling Laws
An ACLU investigation revealed that the Colorado Springs Police Department, City Attorney’s Office, and Municipal Court are illegally enforcing the City’s panhandling laws against impoverished people who have not violated those laws.
According to a letter sent on September 15, 2015 to the City Attorney by the ACLU of Colorado, the City’s practice....
Wheat Ridge v. Taylor
The Wheat Ridge Municipal Court violated a Colorado law banning debtor’s prison practices by sentencing a homeless man to jail because he could not pay a fine, according to a filing made on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.
Wilburn Taylor was cited for panhandling when a Wheat Ridge police officer found him with a blank....
Criminal Justice, Criminalization of Homelessness, End Debtors' Prisons
Brown v. City of Colorado Springs
In a lawsuit filed on October 12, 2016 against Colorado Springs police officers and the City of Colorado Springs, the ACLU of Colorado charged that Ryan and Benjamin Brown were victims of the police department’s “custom and practice” of engaging in racially-biased policing and carrying out groundless, racially-motivated stops and searches.
Criminal Justice, Racial Justice
Landow v. City of Fort Collins
On Feb. 10, 2015, The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a class action lawsuit challenging an anti-panhandling ordinance that is being widely enforced by Fort Collins, in violation of the free speech rights of people who are impoverished and homeless, as well as street performers and non-profit canvassers.
Fort Collins police have....
Criminalization of Homelessness, Freedom of Expression & Religion
Gonzalez v. City of Trinidad
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a lawsuit against the City of Trinidad and a pair of Trinidad detectives on behalf of two innocent women who were falsely arrested and prosecuted as part of a highly-publicized “drug sting” in December, 2013.
According to the suit, Trinidad detectives Phil Martin and Arsenio Vigil relied on....