Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • 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. 


Lakewood agrees to restore censored artwork


March 16, 2005


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Colorado announced today that Lakewood city officials have agreed to restore to its original condition an art exhibit that they censored last month on the ground that they believed it was “anti-American” and “anti-military.”


“Art is expression that is protected by the Constitution,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “The First Amendment forbids government officials from censoring or suppressing art because they disagree with the message they believe it communicates.”

Lemke’s piece, titled “Hope Stones,” is an array of small ceramic “stones” containing quotations on the theme of war and peace from various past and present political and literary figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ward Beecher, and former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.


In February, City Manager Mike Rock, with the support of three members of the Lakewood City Council, ordered that one of the ceramic pieces be removed from Lemke’s exhibit. The censored stone featured a quotation attributed to Bill Maher: “A real coward is someone who drops a bomb from a protected space several thousand feet up.”


Lemke, an Air Force veteran, has said that City officials misunderstood the “Hope Stones.” The exhibit is neither unpatriotic nor anti-military, she said, but is a piece “meant to encourage people to question and re-examine their feelings about war and peace.” The quotations show that that humans have questioned war throughout the history of civilization, she added.


"One of the beauties of a democratic society is the freedom we all have to express ourselves even if our viewpoints differ,” Lemke explained. “We don't all have to agree or even like what others have to say, but we each have the right to express that viewpoint. The arts are an especially important vehicle for this exchange of ideas. They encourage examination of issues, they present alternative ways of looking at things, and hopefully, make people more aware.”


“I’m very happy that the City of Lakewood has agreed to resolve this controversy without the need for legal action,” Silverstein said. “Lakewood officials have agreed to restore Ms. Lemke’s exhibit to its original condition and to write her a letter of apology.”


The “Hope Stones” piece, part of a three-artist exhibition titled “Conversations in Clay,” will remain on display at the Lakewood Cultural Center through March 25. The additional artists in the show are Caroline Douglas and Marie E.v.B. Gibbons.

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