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Identifier: WH1911


The collection contains primarily copies of newspaper clippings dating from the late 1950s to 2002 with the bulk of the material dating between 1980-2002. The clippings document political and social protest groups, organized crime especially gangs and specific types of crime such as forgery, robbery and homicide. Files regarding political and social protest groups from the last 30 years of the 20th century however contain the most historically significant material. Organizations from all sides of the political spectrum are represented in these files, including the American Indian Movement, Operation Rescue and the Ku Klux Klan. Material includes copies of brochures, flyers, photographs, articles, handbooks and newsletters. The photographs document public gatherings.

The copies were made from original material in the Denver Police Department Intelligence Bureau Files, which is restricted for fifty years.


  • 1950-2002


The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


The Denver Intelligence Bureau was founded in 1953 to develop and process information on: organized crime, activity by the criminal element, individuals in groups of special interest regarding the safety of the public, dignitary protection, the background investigation of police applicants and the arrest of outstanding fugitives. In addition the bureau performs specialized investigations.

In March 2002, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver. The following is a portion of a press release sent by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado: "The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado (ACLU) filed a class action lawsuit today challenging the Denver Police Department's practice of monitoring and recording the peaceful protest activities of Denver-area residents, keeping files on the expressive activities of law-abiding advocacy organizations, and sharing those files with third parties. The suit also charges that Denver police have falsely labeled the ACLU's clients as "criminal extremist," including the American Friends Service Committee, an 85-year-old pacifist Quaker group that has won the Nobel Peace Prize for its advocacy of nonviolent social change; and Sister Antonia Anthony, a 73-year-old Franciscan nun whose opinions and lawful protest activity are documented in police files. Additional plaintiffs are End the Politics of Cruelty, a Denver-based human rights organization that has focused on issues of police accountability; the Chiapas Coalition, which conducts education and advocacy activities supporting the struggle of indigenous persons in the Mexican state of Chiapas; and Stephen and Vicki Nash, whose participation in peaceful protest activities is also the subject of police files.... According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs represent a class of as many as 3200 individuals and 208 organizations who have been targeted because of their peaceful expressive activities."

Due to the case and the media surrounding it, the records became known as the "Spy Files." In a portion of a news release sent through the city "Mayor John Hickenlooper joined City Attorney Cole Finegan, Manager of Safety Al LaCabe, and City Librarian Rick Ashton on Thursday to announce that the Denver Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau files, also known as the “Spy Files,” will be housed in the Denver Public Library’s existing Western History Collection. This decision brings to a close a long-standing dispute concerning the activities of the Denver Intelligence Bureau. A lawsuit in U.S. District Court between the American Friends Service Committee, et al. and the City was settled in May 2003 with the City revising the policies governing the Bureau. Although the City could have destroyed the files, Mayor Hickenlooper has ordered the records to be saved for historical purposes and study, in response to requests from the American Civil Liberties Union and the individuals and organizations documented in the files. “This decision marks the end of a difficult era in the city’s history, but it also demonstrates our renewed commitment to open and accessible government,” Mayor Hickenlooper said."


7 Boxes

Language of Materials



Gift, City and County of Denver, 2005.


Ellen Zazzarino



Ellen Zazzarino

February 2006
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States