The Denver Innocence Project will be hosting its second fundraiser on January 20 at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom with performances by Shakedown Street — a Grateful Dead tribute band, and My Blue Sky — an Allman Brothers tribute band. All proceeds from the show will go to the Denver Innocence Project.
Like other innocence programs around the country, the Denver Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing legal services to free innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted in Colorado.
“I decided to start [an innocence program] here in Colorado just because there’s a lot of work to be done. And there’s been a few cases in Colorado, a lot of people think Colorado is a great state and there’s no innocent people in prison, but the truth is there’s innocent people in prison everywhere, it happens everywhere,” Michael Slotnick, director and founder of the Denver Innocence Project, said.
In addition to the live performances, the upcoming benefit hopes to have an exoneree, someone who has wrongfully spent time in prison, go on stage between the bands and tell people about the Denver Innocence Project and how they can help or hear about other events.
“We thought [the bands we chose] would be a good fit just because fans of the Grateful Dead and jam bands are always into civil rights issues and we just thought it would be a good fit,” Slotnick said.
The Denver Innocence Project officially started in September of 2016 and is one of two innocence programs in Colorado.
“We are very, very new, and this fundraiser is going to help us a lot because we’re currently working on a case and we could use some money to get some transcripts from old trials and get some new evidence tested,” Slotnick said.
For future events, the Denver Innocence Project plans to stick with a theme of music and social awareness.
“I think a lot [of] musicians are in support of what we do, and I think the big thing of why what we’re doing is so popular right now strictly goes back to the cellphone. Because now, people have a cellphone all the time and when there is police misconduct they can whip out a cellphone, or when they’re shooting an innocent black person they can whip out a cellphone. Now we see that this is happening at a high frequency and people aren’t stupid, they’re realizing that this isn’t a modern thing — this must have been going on all along but it’s first being brought to peoples’ attention because of the cellphone,” Slotnick said.
Aside from the musical benefits, the Denver Innocence Project hopes to partner with the Denver Film Society to put on a film festival showcasing documentaries about wrongful convictions. Following the documentaries, they plan to have a Q&A with the exonerees. They also plan to start an Innocence Week which will include flying out famous exonerees, documentaries, book signings, a Q&A and a gala dinner. Until then the Denver Innocence Project is trying to build their exposure and get their name out there.
“The big thing is awareness, since we are new we want people to know that we exist and to educate people about wrongful conviction issues,” Slotnick said, “We want people to know that even though Colorado is a beautiful state that (wrongful convictions) happen here and it happens everywhere.”
The benefit is on Friday, January 20 at 9 p.m. at Cervantes’ – 2635 Welton St., Denver, CO 80205. Tickets start at $15; get them here. All proceeds made from the show will go to the Denver Innocence Project. For more information about the Denver Innocence Project and their upcoming events check out their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.