Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.


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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