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. 




A Letter from June Fraser Thistle

I am writing to ask you to support SB21-062 because had this bill been law, it could have saved my son’s life. Our son, Jerid Jason Thistle, was a loving son and father. He struggled with an addiction to methamphetamines that led to mental health issues. We had a plan for Jerid to move home to Washington. It was his dream to open a home mechanic shop on our property. He was a terrific mechanic. You can ask anyone who works at the Alamosa Sheriff’s office. They all had their vehicles fixed.... | Read More


Marvin Booker

My brother, Marvin Booker, was 56 years old when he was killed. Marvin was a peaceful street preacher who also struggled with mental illness and drug use. None of this changed the fact that he was a kind and loving man. He was no risk to anyone. What haunts me when I think about his life, about all the years he worked to do good in this world, are the handful of minutes it took to end it.  A little over ten years ago, the Denver police arrested Marvin on a low-level drug charge. While being.... | Read More


ACLU of Colorado Statement on Boulder Shooting

March 23, 2021 DENVER – The following statement can be attributed to Deborah Richardson, ACLU of Colorado Executive Director. “We are heartbroken over the loss of ten lives during the horrific attack in Boulder yesterday. Our deepest sympathies go out to those whose loved ones lost their lives, were injured, or were otherwise impacted by this tragedy. “While much remains unknown about this shooting, we call on elected officials not to politicize this tragedy for political gain. We.... | Read More


Counselors, Not Cops: Heidi Laursen and her son, J.L.

Learn more and take action here. “I have never as a parent been tested like I have with this situation with J.L.”  As the mother of four children with four different personalities and learning styles Heidi Laursen was used to wearing different hats to advocate for her kids. She had one daughter who was in gifted programs, who all the teachers loved, one with a variety of strengths and talents, who rarely required additional support, and another daughter who had dyslexia and required.... | Read More


Counselors, Not Cops: Shandie Harris and her son, J.J.

Learn more and take action here. “I’m worried about him ending up like Elijah McClain.” Shandie Harris fears for her son J.J.’s life every day. As a six foot tall, 230 pound young Black man, teachers and law enforcement often see 16-year-old J.J. as a threat. J.J. has autism and learns at a 5th grade level. He has an IEP but that hasn’t been enough to shield him from bias and a system determined to misunderstand his needs. “He doesn’t look like he has a disability,” Shandie.... | Read More


Counselors, Not Cops: Michelle Hanson and her son, A.V.

“One of A.V.’s struggles is he doesn’t advocate for himself very well. Will he ever feel comfortable advocating for himself and his friends again? Will he ever feel safe talking to a police officer again?” Michelle Hanson always wanted her kids to go to their neighborhood schools until the day her 11-year-old son A.V. ended up handcuffed in the back of a police car for hours, sobbing, injured, and traumatized.  Like most young people, A.V. is more than just one thing. He is a beloved.... | Read More