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. 

Lawsuit Over Lockers for the Homeless in Fort Collins Nears Resolution

July 18, 2019

Photo courtesy of The Denver Channel

FORT COLLINS – A lawsuit filed against the City of Fort Collins by the ACLU of Colorado on behalf of the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship is close to resolution, with the parties’ attorneys having agreed on a set of conditions that will allow the Fellowship to provide outdoor storage lockers to individuals experiencing homelessness. The proposed settlement requires approval by the Fort Collins City Council, which is expected to consider the measure in August. 

“Our faith speaks more about the need to take care of the poor than any other moral issue,” said Steve Ramer, Pastor of the Fellowship. “I’m happy we’re close to finally settling this issue and will soon be able to offer our neighbors a place to store what little they have. These lockers may not solve homelessness, but they’re a piece of the puzzle and an extension of our faith through good works.”

In 2018, the Fellowship’s plan to install up to 20 lockers and make them available to individuals experiencing homelessness sparked a neighborhood controversy and prompted City staff to require the Fellowship to seek approval from the Planning and Zoning Board. That Board conditionally approved the program, but neighbors appealed to the City Council. At a hearing last fall, the Council denied the neighbors’ appeal but imposed additional conditions on the operation of the locker program, including onsite supervision by a Fellowship representative.  Ramer said it was impossible for the small congregation to comply with the City’s conditions. As a result, the locker program ended its brief operation and the ACLU filed a federal court challenge to the conditions imposed by the City Council.

“Our lawsuit argued that the City was unjustifiably infringing on the Mennonite Fellowship’s religious practice,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “We are pleased that the City’s attorneys were willing to negotiate a compromise that will allow the locker program to function.”

The parties’ negotiation provides for security cameras, expands the ability of participants to access the lockers and no longer requires a Fellowship representative to be present at all times, as long as one is available by telephone.   

In addition to Silverstein and Staff Attorney Arash Jahanian, the ACLU legal team includes ACLU cooperating attorneys Brian J. Connolly, Thomas Macdonald, David A. Brewster and Andrew L.W. Peters of Otten, Johnson, Robinson, Neff & Ragonetti, P.C.


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.

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