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  • 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.

STATEMENT ON WARD CHURCHILL

Statement on Ward Churchill

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2005

 

The First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution protects Ward Churchill's right to speak or write his opinions and it protects the rights of his detractors to say they do not like what he wrote or said. The ACLU of Colorado stands firmly for these rights of free speech.

 

The ACLU of Colorado calls upon the Regents, legislators and the Governor to stop threatening Mr. Churchill's job because of the content of his opinions. This governmental interference with the content of Mr. Churchill's constitutionally protected opinions tramples on fundamental American values.

 

The Regents should take care that the Chancellor's investigation of Mr. Churchill's competence is not a fishing expedition to find something – anything – to use as an excuse to fire him. If that happens, their action will be subjected to a high level of scrutiny to determine if it is really a guise to fire him for the content of his writing. As Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "[t]he First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech."

 

Free speech means we may hear something we do not want to hear. However, that does not give anyone the right to stifle dissent, especially on a university campus. After World War I, when the United States was gripped with fear over the first red scare, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes urged Americans to tolerate even opinions "that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death." It is understandable that people found Mr. Churchill's comment offensive. His language was harsh and he pointed his finger of blame for the attacks at the U.S. government, not at the zealots who flew the planes.

 

Death threats, canceling speaking engagements and threats of losing his job are not appropriate responses to Ward Churchill's opinions, even if you believe they are outrageous. Those threats are not expressions of American values. The ACLU of Colorado agrees with Adlai Stevenson, Jr. when he said in 1952, "My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."



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