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. 


On today, June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck three provisions of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, but permitted enactment of the controversial “show me your papers” provision. The “show me your papers” provision requires local police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is a “reasonable suspicion” a person is in the United States illegally. This provision will undoubtedly will lead to racial profiling and discrimination.

The ACLU of Colorado is, however, heartened by the fact that the Court invalidated most of the law’s provision stating that Arizona had overstepped its authority. Colorado, thankfully, is not Arizona. “We’ve seen the corrosive effects that laws like S.B. 1070 have on a community. Colorado understands how laws like the Arizona law harm business, undermine police work, and threaten our most basic American values. Anti-immigrant laws modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070 are proving to be a failed experiment that we must not repeat in any other state, especially Colorado,” said Denise Maes, ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director.

The Court permitted one of the most controversial parts of S.B. 1070, the so-called “show me your papers” provision, to move forward, but the Court stated that until it is actually implemented and enforced, it is unclear whether the provision is constitutional. Therefore, the provision remains subject to challenge.

“There is no way for this provision to be enacted without racial profiling. The provision basically says that if, for whatever reason, your last name, color of your skin or your accent allows you to be perceived as ‘foreign,’ you’re vulnerable to being stopped,” said ACLU National Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “That’s not an America we want to live in.”

The ACLU case challenging the Arizona law was stayed pending resolution of the United States case challenging the law.

“Show me your papers” laws exact a heavy financial toll. Alabama’s state economy has taken a multi-billion dollar hit as a result of its law. Arizona saw a drop in sales tax revenue and a jump in the unemployment rate when S.B. 1070 was enacted in 2010. Farmers have seen their crops rot and are planting less because the workers they have relied on for decades have fled in fear.

There are over 400,000 foreign-born immigrants living in Colorado and the data shows that over the course of a lifetime, immigrants – whether documented or not – pay more in taxes than they take in government services. They represent almost 12 percent of the Colorado workforce and immigrant-owned small businesses bring almost $700 million a year to Colorado. The Supreme Court decision clearly tells Colorado and other states that laws like S.B. 1070 are to be avoided.

Anti-immigrant laws are costly at so many levels. They drain resources from county sheriffs and local police departments who do not want the burden of serving as immigration agents while also trying to protect their communities. Immigration checks poison efforts to foster trust and cooperation within all communities. These laws encourage racial profiling, undermine local law enforcement and sow a climate of fear that pits neighbor against neighbor.

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