Becoming the Model of Democracy

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By Deborah Richardson, Executive Director

Fourteen years ago, responding to the exhortations, “Change” and “Yes We Can,” the young voters of this country helped make history when we elected our first Black president.

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Through our “We Are the Vote,” campaign during the 2022 midterm election, ACLU of Colorado contributed to sustaining historically high young voter turnout in Colorado. Young voters are overwhelmingly supportive of civil rights issues; their engagement made a difference in passing initiatives and electing officials that represent our collective interests in protecting and advancing civil rights and civil liberties for all Coloradans.

Ballot initiatives that we supported that will provide the basic human rights of access to food and shelter were passed. There will be an increase in the number of affordable housing units in Colorado and all students — regardless of their household income, will receive free lunches. 
In this coming legislative session we will continue to work on criminal justice reform, including juvenile justice for our children. Over a five year period, 179 children between 10 and 11 years old, and 480 children aged 12 were arrested, separated from their families, and placed behind bars in juvenile detention. 80 percent of the charges were non-violent crimes such as trespassing or criminal mischief.  
659 children were put through the trauma of arrest, detention, and separation from family when restorative justice resources, like counseling, would have been more successful. We will join a coalition of partners to ensure that children ages 12 and younger are supported with age-appropriate behavior management and evidence-based interventions.   
In this newsletter, you will read about our new strategic roadmap. It is the strongest and most visionary work in our 70-year history. We are excited to engage the next generation of change-agents in the upcoming legislative process and beyond.

As ACLU of Colorado advocates for legislation that repairs the harms of systemic racism in Black, Latine, and Indigenous communities, we commit to building a diverse, multi-generational coalition to collectively fight for: 

  • Equitable alternatives to policing, prosecutions, and prisons;
  • Solutions for our unhoused and housing insecure neighbors; and
  • Protections to safeguard our fundamental rights to privacy and liberty.

Democracy will not work on cruise control; rather, it is a tireless pursuit of engagement, assessment, and pressing forward. We cannot rest on the promise of our ideals. We must act with urgency to achieve our 2023 legislative priorities. 

With our collective efforts, and your support, Colorado will become the model of democracy. Thank you for being a partner in our mission to advance equity and equality for all Coloradans.