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
Provino v. Big League Haircuts
The ACLU of Colorado and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project filed suit on behalf of Ashley Provino, a Grand Junction woman who was fired from her job, in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, for asserting her right to pump breast milk at work.
Provino, a new mother, requested permission from her employer, Big League Haircuts, to....
Valdez v. Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office
Claudia Valdez called Arapahoe County Police in July 2012, when a domestic dispute with her husband turned physical. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, they arrested Valdez and took her to jail. After her husband admitted in court the next morning that he had been the aggressor, a judge ordered Valdez’s release. Rather than release Valdez,....
End Immigration Detainers
A letter was sent to Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson requesting that Denver County stop honoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, which are requests by the federal government that states and municipalities hold prisoners until ICE can determine their immigration status, often past the time they would otherwise be released . The letter....
Criminal Justice, End Immigration Detainers, Immigrants’ Rights
Challenge to Grand Junction Anti-Panhandling Ordinance
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed suit in federal district court challenging the City of Grand Junction's anti-panhandling ordinance, which bans a wide swath of speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
Although Grand Junction officials have claimed that the ordinance aims only at “aggressive” panhandling, the ACLU contends....
Criminal Justice, Criminalization of Homelessness, Freedom of Expression & Religion
DISH Network Accommodation of Nursing Mothers
The ACLU of Colorado sent a letter on March 12, 2014 to DISH Network documenting multiple failures to accommodate nursing mothers at the company’s corporate headquarters in Englewood, where employees are forced to pump breast milk in front of their co-workers and supervisors, without privacy screens or curtains, and at a DISH Network call center in....
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sent letters to three Front Range cities demanding a prompt halt to the illegal practice of jailing poor people for failing to pay court-ordered fines. The ACLU conducted an in-depth investigation into the municipal courts of Westminster, Wheat Ridge, and Northglenn, and found that each city routinely issues....
Criminal Justice, End Debtors' Prisons