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. 


Pueblo Family Obtains $230,000 in Settlement of Civil Rights Claims Against City of Pueblo, State of Colorado and U.S. Government


August 29 , 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and cooperating attorneys from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP obtained a $230,000 settlement for their client, the Unis family of Pueblo, Colorado. The settlement agreement, announced today, brings to a close a civil rights battle spanning almost four years against the United States, the City of Pueblo, individual officers from the DEA, the State of Colorado and the Pueblo Police Department. The federal government and the City of Pueblo will each pay $100,000, and the State, $30,000.


The settlement arose from lawsuits filed after several fully geared SWAT officers of the Pueblo Police Department, wielding assault weapons and masked in black, under the auspices of a federal drug task force, stormed the home of Dan and Rosa Unis and their two teenaged sons in late summer 2000. In what was later euphemistically called a "dynamic entry," the officers subdued the family at gunpoint, while yelling obscenities and kicking the family's small dog across the room. They then searched the home and arrested the teenage sons, detaining them in prison for two days without any parental contact. The officers operated without a warrant of any kind; no charges of any kind were ever filed by the government.


"We are pleased to see the Fourth Amendment prevail, particularly during these challenging times for civil liberties," said Gibson Dunn litigation attorney Greg Whitehair, who with a team represents the Unis family on a pro bono basis. "We hope this result will prevent other families and individuals from suffering future law enforcement raids of this nature."


Earlier this year, in the Unis' lawsuit against the individual officers, Senior District Judge Richard P. Matsch, of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, ruled that the officers' entry into the home and detention of the brothers violated the family's Fourth Amendment rights. He found that a competent officer would have known he or she was acting in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This ruling established important precedent regarding the limited scope of law enforcement actions that may be taken without an arrest warrant.


As a result of this ruling, and in light of separate tort claims brought against them and their agents, the governmental entities (United States, State of Colorado, City of Pueblo) chose to settle the litigation and pending appeals for $230,000.


"The ACLU considers this result an outstanding defense of civil liberties, and the Unis family is now able to move forward in support of the boys' college careers," said Cathryn L. Hazouri, Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado. The Unis brothers are now honors students in veterinary medicine and ethno-botany.


"We are very pleased with the outcome, especially the recognition that the police were wrong when they broke into our home and terrified my family," said Dan Unis, father of the two boys. "We look forward to returning to our private lives."

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