Headlines May 28, 2020
The ACLU of Colorado today filed a class action lawsuit against Governor Jared Polis and the Department of Corrections seeking an emergency order to compel the DOC to protect medically vulnerable incarcerated people from COVID-19.
Erica Grossman, an attorney with the ACLU says the lawsuit asks the Department of Corrections to prioritize the release of people who are older, sick, or otherwise vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19 and who pose no threat to public safety.
Governor Polis had issued an executive order, parts of which have now expired, ordering a relaxing of standards for release of prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic, with a view to creating more space in prisons and to facilitate more opportunity for social distancing.
The Denver Post reports that only 290 inmates were released over two months under the order, less than 2% of the system’s pre-pandemic population.
Nearly 600 prisoners in the state have tested positive for COVID-19 and 35 Department of Corrections employees.
The Sterling Correctional Facility has been identified as having one of the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with 539 confirmed cases. Two prisoners there have died as a result of the virus.
The Colorado Department of Labor has set up a system for employers to report job refusals.
Workers and employers are supposed to report job refusals by employees who are receiving unemployment benefits. Those workers might then lose their unemployment benefits, depending on the situation.
According to the latest figures from the Department of Labor, claims for regular unemployment insurance benefits in Colorado declined slightly for the sixth straight week.
Denver Public Schools will likely require that students wear face masks when they return to school in the fall in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The Denver Post reports that class sizes will also be reduced to 10 to 16 people, including instructors.
Large assemblies will be discontinued and facilities will be disinfected throughout the school day.
On Wednesday a memorial was unveiled at Chatauqua in Boulder commemorating the six young Chicano activists, all current, former and prospective CU students, who were killed in two car bombs in May 1974.
The first explosion happened in Chautauqua Park on May 27, 1974, which killed Una Jaakola, Reyes Martinez and Neva Romero.
Two days later, a second bomb exploded in another car in the Burger King parking lot on 28th Street killing Francisco Dougherty, Freddie Granado, and Heriberto Teran. Their friend Antonio Alcantar survived the explosion but lost his leg following extensive injury and an amputation. There were never indictments for those responsible.
The explosions happened during a time of political activism by students at CU. Students were occupying Temporary Building 1 on campus to protest the treatment of Mexican-American students, including cuts to a diversity recruitment program and missing financial aid payments.
CU Boulder students, the Colorado Chautauqua Association and other members of the community have been working for the past year to establish a marker at Chatauqua.
Yesterday an engraved stone monument was unveiled at a ceremony that included family members of Los Seis. A larger ceremony was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, that has been rescheduled for next year.
Students at CU and local activists have been working to have memorials established for Los Seis. Last year a sculpture was unveiled on the CU campus in honor of Los Seis, created by an MFA student.
On Wednesday, after hours of debate, the state legislature approved new rules to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely during a public health emergency.
The vote was along party lines with Republicans opposing remote voting.
The Colorado Sun reports that the new rules are expected to take effect for votes happening today in the House and Senate chambers.
Yesterday’s vote came a day after leaders in the House and Senate, both Democrats, confirmed that legislative committees will not accept witness testimony by video or telephone.
A Denver District Court judge on Wednesday upheld an executive order issued by Gov. Jared Polis that allows petition gatherers to collect signatures for ballot initiatives by mail or email during the coronavirus pandemic.
Colorado Politics reports that the judge ruled against the business group Colorado Concern and University of Denver chancellor emeritus Dan Ritchie, who argued that Polis’ order violates the state constitution, which says that signatures to put measures on the ballot must be gathered in person.
Mike Kopp, president and CEO of Colorado Concern, told Colorado Politics that the organization is considering its next steps, which could include appealing the order to the Colorado Supreme Court.