As the inauguration of Donald Trump approaches, the ACLU of Colorado is reaffirming its commitment to protecting the rights of Coloradans by calling on statewide leaders to make the state a “civil liberties safe zone.”
Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley said in a blog post that constitutional rights are in peril under a president who has threatened to “resume torture, deport millions of immigrants, expand stop-and-frisk practices, enact a ban on Muslims entering our country, restrict freedom of the press, overturn abortion rights, allow LGBT rights to be gutted, and much more,” and that the ACLU will play an active role in ensuring those threats don’t come to fruition.
As part of that effort, the ACLU of Colorado released a petition to urge state leaders to protect rights in the criminal justice system, voting rights, immigrant rights, reproductive rights, and more. The petition, released in the weeks following the election, has garnered over 3,000 signatures so far.
Support for the ACLU hasn’t jumped this much since the September 11 attacks and the passage of the Patriot Act, which caused a similar degree of concern about government intrusions on civil liberties, according to ACLU of Colorado spokesperson John Krieger.
Krieger says he’s hopeful that Colorado could set an example for the rest of the country when it comes to working across the aisle to protect the rights of its citizens.
In 2014, for example, the state passed legislation that prohibits the use of solitary confinement for mentally ill prisoners. Some states, including Indiana and Wisconsin, followed suit soon after to limit the use of solitary confinement, which many argue constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Krieger says he hopes state lawmakers will continue on this trajectory of progress despite potential setbacks at the federal level.
“If we can be successful, especially with good, strong, bipartisan legislation here in Colorado, there are other states that will look at it also,” says Krieger.
Krieger adds that criminal justice reform and police accountability will likely remain key issues for the ACLU of Colorado as Trump assumes office.
Reproductive rights are also shaping up to be a focal point for the organization, which was outspoken in its criticism of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s recent announcement of plans to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding as part of the Affordable Care Act repeal.
To read more about the petition and sign it, go here.