Colorado ACLU sees uptick in support as a ‘backstop’ to Donald Trump

Over the weekend, the American Civil Liberties Union raked in $24 million in online donations— six times its typical annual haul from cyber givers.

The boom in support followed the group’s aggressive and successful court victory after the ACLU legally challenged Trump’s Friday executive travel ban order, which caused chaos and confusion at airports where travelers from certain countries were being detained.

While the Colorado affiliate is still calculating how much of the $24 million it might get— the national ACLU splits donations with state affiliates when money comes from a certain state— the Colorado ACLU has seen an uptick in support since Trump’s election.

The group raised three times more money on Colorado Gives Day, which was about a month after the election, than it has in years past. That includes an unprecedented number of small-dollar donations, says ACLU of Colorado spokesman John Krieger. The group’s annual budget last year was about $2 million for a full-time staff of about 14.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s affiliate saw sign-ups by volunteer activists grow by about 1,000 since the presidential election, Krieger said. About 165 people have signed up since Saturday alone, “which is good, it’s exciting and we need it as we continue to be the backstop against the Trump administration,” he said.

Krieger said he believes that with both houses of Congress controlled by Republicans and “where the Democrats aren’t necessarily offering the best resistance,” people are looking to the courts and to groups such as the ACLU to support.

Following the Nov. 8 election, the state ACLU launched an effort to make Colorado a civil liberties safe zone. Among the protections the group fears could come under attack from the Trump administration: Free speech and a free press, voting rights, immigration rights, privacy, reproductive and LGBT rights, and a religious freedom.

Colorado has been moving forward on civil rights and civil liberties in recent years with bipartisan legislation ranging from solitary confinement to voting rights, immigration reform and debtors prisons, Krieger says. “And we want to continue to move forward instead of spending the next four years on defense.”

On Saturday, a federal judge in Brooklyn temporarily stopped deportations of refugees who recently arrived. The ACLU brought the court challenge.

Here’s Omar Jadwat of the ACLU’s project on immigrant rights talking about how and why the group made its challenge to the new president within his first few days in office.

In Colorado, the ACLU plans to ask its 1,000 new volunteer activists to become the group’s local watchdogs in their own municipalities, courthouses and city councils.

“That’s the place where we hope that a lot of our new activists will go, start paying attention, be vigilant, pass on information to us, and really be eyes and ears on the ground,” Krieger said. “And that new capacity that wasn’t there three months ago is going to be hugely important to our organization.”