The impact The Colorado Independent made for my family

Natalia Marshall and Michael Marshall
Natalia Marshall and Michael Marshall

Dear Colorado Independent readers, 

My name is Natalia Marshall. I am the niece of Michael Marshall, who was killed three years ago by Sheriff’s deputies at the Denver jail.

Uncle Mike’s homicide devastated my family and me. What made it even worse was that, in the days, weeks and months that followed, the city gave us almost no information about the circumstances of his killing. Uncle Mike was mentally ill and homeless. He was also a gentle man who shied away from conflict. We knew that whatever led to his death in Sheriff’s custody was the result of something gone very wrong and we desperately needed answers. 

We got those answers not from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration, but from an unexpected source. The Colorado Independent made the effort to file a public records request demanding a video of what happened to my uncle, and then to file a lawsuit against the city when it denied that request. A day later, the footage the city likely otherwise would have taken several months more to release was made public and available to my family so we could begin the process of understanding and grieving.

This was not a happy news story. As The Independent reported, the city’s brutality, ignorance and indifference to my uncle’s life and death exposed very ugly truths about the way our criminal justice system often fails people of color, people with mental illness, and Colorado’s homeless population. What makes The Independent special is its relentlessness to expose these problems, even when it means having to file a lawsuit to do so. Their journalists don’t take no for an answer.

The Independent isn’t just about covering wealthy or white communities. It’s about covering everyone – the rich and poor, the powerful and vulnerable, the urban community and suburbanites, and even people who lose their lives or are murdered and need someone to uncover the truth of what really happened. It is about giving everyone a voice, including my uncle. These journalists saw the value of his life and the importance of telling the truth about what ended it. For that, my family and I are grateful. 

Tomorrow is Colorado Gives Day and all donations to The Independent are being tripled. That means that for every dollar you give, generous matching grants from an Independentreader and from NewsMatch – a group of foundations supporting independent journalism – will make it $3 dollars. Please do what you can to support this important news source and the people who put their hearts and souls into reporting for it.


Natalia Marshall