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Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered Amerasian children ,and descendants, of U.S. sailors and military contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many Amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. sailors who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to  be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2017 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children.  John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the  life and the personal struggles as a Filipino Amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017 now!

Jenifer Bass
33,095 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Colorado State House, Colorado State Senate

End The Denver/Aurora Pit Bull Ban

Colorado State House and Senate I urge you to end breed specific legislation. Please allow this topic on the general election ballot in 2017! In May 2005, Denver re-instituted a city ordinance banning pit bull ownership within the city limits. The Ordinance covers American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and any animal displaying “the majority of physical traits of anyone or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.” We have recently seen a similar attempt to ban Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, any mix with these breeds, and any dog that presents characteristics of one of these breeds. Those who already live in Montreal and own pit bulls would have to get a special $150 permit in order to keep their dog. Their dog must be muzzled and kept on a short leash when outside of the owner’s home.  With this ban all animal shelters in Montreal would be unable to adopt out a pit bull breed leaving healthy, adoptable, behaviorally sound dogs to be euthanized. On October 5th, 2016 Judge Louis Gouin of the Quebec Superior Court rendered his decision in the lawsuit opposing the Montreal SPCA and the City of Montreal concerning the new animal control by-law. He ordered the suspension of the sections of the by-law targeting certain breeds, namely those prohibiting the adoption of “pit bull type dogs” and requiring these dogs to be muzzled.  Judge Gouin ruled that the contested provisions of the by-law raise seriour legal questions which the Court will need to consider in greater depth, but in the meantime, the urgency of the situation is such that a stay is required. The Judge namely invoked the elasticity of the definition of the term “pit bull type dogs”, which, by including mixes of the targeted breeds as well as dogs who physically resemble these, is so vague and imprecise that neither the Montreal SPCA, nor dog owners are able to determine exactly which dogs are covered. The Court also raised the possibility that the City of Montreal had exceeded its powers by providing for the seizure and euthanasia of “pit bull type dogs”, without consideration of whether the targeted animals are, in fact, actually dangerous. Montreal’s fight is far from being over, but who is fighting for the pit bulls here in the US? It has been eleven years since the ban was re-instituted in Denver. That is ELEVEN years of euthanizing family pets and forcing people to relocate. With the huge influx of people moving to the Denver, CO area NOW is the time to end this ban. Let’s stand together in 2016 to get this done. This is step one. Please sign and share this petition to get it on the ballot. Also, please take step two and VOTE! Pit bulls and similar breeds are family pets. No dog is born violent and dangerous. Remember it is a dog that bites, not a breed.  END BSL!

Carly Frank
16,303 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Apple

Take the iPads Off The Tortoises

Dear Aspen Art Museum, Cai Guo-Qiang, The Turtle Conservancy and City of Aspen We, the undersigned, request you end this animal exploitation and abuse. The Tortoises that you have in your new display in the new Aspen Art Museum have had iPads attached to their shells and must endure the weight of 2 iPads on their back as they walk around showing slides of old Aspen in the name of art. Since when is animal abuse art?  We must all rise and stop this now!! There is no excuse for this! So I ask you, do 2 or more wrongs make a right? That they were rescued from a bad situation somehow makes it ok for them to carry these 2 iPads because they are now well fed, have medical care and a view? Or that they have better care/food than they would in wild. This is anthropomorphizing at its finest! Tortoises & Turtles have out lived even the dinosaurs without our help! Clearly they do just fine on their own when left to their own lives. A tortoises' needs are quite simple but their sensitivity to pain and suffering is equal to that of any other living being. And as a living, breathing being deserve to be treated humanely. And does the fact that a female tortoise can endure the weight of a mate for a few hours once a year somehow justify and prepare them for the unbalancing effect of 2 iPads attached to their backs for several months? Least we forget that then the female tortoise has a choice about what male she lets mount her. She is not strapped down and forced to endure the event. The point is that they were not given a choice! And even if they were, do any of us speak Tortoise enough to understand what they might choose? As a species, are we really so arrogant as to assume what another species might choose if given the chance? While we are concerned for Turtles and Tortoises and with the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie, and appreciate people seeing how big these animals can get, we do believe there is a bigger concern here. We think children and irresponsible adults will see this as permission to attach things to all animals. Children mimic what they see adults doing. So it is not a stretch to think that children will see this and start attaching things to animals they encounter. Unfortunately, they will not be as careful as you claim to be, and will use screws, toxic glue and god only knows what else, causing inexorable damage. Anytime a public display like this, movies, etc shows that it's ok to do various things to animals, children and other non-well adjusted adults will think it's ok/funny, etc and follow suit. At the very least, there needs to be someone there talking to people and kids about this and telling them "Do Not Try This At Home".  Perhaps even hand outs and displays about how many species of turtles and tortoises are endangerd and bring light to the work you all are doing. This may help offset the potential for danger to other animals, though we fear they will anyway. Furthermore, there is absolutely no scientific outcome from this study, like there is when other devices are attached to wild animals. No overall good for the Tortoise as a species or humankind or any other greater good.  I am greatly concerned that this installation is setting a very bad example on how to treat turtles/tortoises and animals in general. For reference, the carapace (The carapace is the dorsal (back) convex part of the shell structure of a turtle, consisting primarily of the animal's ribcage, dermal armor and scutes) is sensitive to the slightest impact. If the carapace or plastron be very gently tapped, the nearest leg is alone withdrawn, a heavier tap causing a withdrawal of its whole body. We have here, therefore, a structure which is a true sensitive surface, and like the soft skin of a frog or of a man, it is brought into relation- ship with the central nervous system. Like the soft skin of other animals it may be mapped out into areas, from which the nerve-fibres passing to the spinal cord are all especially connected with outgoing motor nerves, so that the definite reflex movements of limbs as already described may come about.(1) If you care to take the time to read the petitions, there have been many veterinarians and artists who have spoken out about this exhibit. (2) Please stop this unnecessary exploitation of animals now and do the right thing by getting these iPad off the Tortoises' backs and make sure they are given to a sanctuary where they will never be abused like this again and put pressure on the artist to vow he will never do anything like this to any other animal ever again! Thank you.   (1) http://jcs.biologists.org/content/s2-31/124/563.full.pdf(2) https://www.facebook.com/groups/TortoisesAspenArt/http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_26269483/new-aspen-art-museum-big-money-meets-big

Lisbeth Oden
6,465 supporters
Petitioning California State Senate, California State House, Washington State Senate, Washington State House, Nevada State House, Nevada State Senate, Oregon State Senate, Oregon State House, Hawaii State Sena...

Call for Blue States to Move On

What happened to make this country the focus of judgment, laughter, and fear from the rest of the world? The industrialized world outside of the United States enjoys a better quality of life and general happiness that most of us can only imagine. First class education, comprehensive health care, clean food/water/air and an overall better relationship with their fellow citizens. And as a country, we have higher mortality rates at younger ages, poorer health, and an impoverished population who can't learn new skills without going deeper into debt. As much as we like to blame Donald Trump for our national problems; these problems were here before him, and they will still be here if Trump is removed from office tomorrow. We have a political system that centralizes power to a consolidated political center in Washington, DC and an economic center in New York City. Our Electoral System will isolate the power to determine the direction of our political system to a very small, easily manipulated portion of the electorate in strategic location. Worst of all, we have a large portion of the population who will empower a mentally unstable man to the highest office in the world; just so they can say “We Won”. This group is constantly complaining about a simple world with plentiful jobs in their communities that are extinct or never really existed. And now, they have the nerve to complain about losing the federal government programs they benefitted from and voted against. It's time we said “ENOUGH” and have Progressive States and Communities band together and share resources and ideas to provide a better quality of life for its people, that the Trump Administration wants to take away. And furthermore, we need to ensure that we only support States and Communities who will change their policies for its people. We can no longer provide assistance to Red States, just so they can abuse and neglect their citizens for business interests.    For the future of this nation, we need to explore every legal method possible to protect the people from an extremely dangerous President Trump.    A Values Based Alliance of the States (VBAS) is one way of resisting this new reality of government, and the dangerous changes that we all know are inevitable. I understand that the constitution will not allow us to directly stop this monstrosity, but it will allows us to devalue it. A VBAS of certain states with similar values and policy preferences can and will use its population centers and economic influence to co-op, share resources, and implement policies with other co-opted states, while not having to depend on or engage the federal government.  Examples:  There are certain states with a majority of people that believe single payer healthcare system (CA, MA, VT, NY, WA, OR, IL, HI.). If those states passed laws to provide single payer health care for it’s people, a Single Payer Healthcare VBAS organization of those states can share resources to improve efficiencies, expand medical training/education amongst the co-opted states, negotiate pharmaceutical/treatment, amend needed tax policies and petition the US Government. This would also force neighboring states to decide if they want to change their internal policies to provide single payer, so they can join the Health Care VBAS. A resident of Indiana might ask his state to join the VBAS, because he could literally see his next door neigbor in Illinois fully covered, and using a Doctor that just came back from his training at a medical school in California. Although the VBAS states can not legally sign the Paris accords, they can change their internal policies to abide by its recommendations. There could be an environmental protection VBAS, where the states involved agree to abide by the Paris accords, improve safety protocols within its states, take climate change seriously, and provide economic preference to states and nations that do the same. CA, OR, NY, MA, VT, WA HI, and NV could agree to be a preferred customer of states or nations that voluntarily reduces its carbon emissions and address climate change, instead of LA or TX, which most likely will not. Other issues could include minimum wage, education, trade agreements, gun control and virtually every policy not adjudicated solely to the federal government. As more VBASes are organized and more states agree to join them, Donald Trump and the ignorance of future presidents become less and less relevant. Please sign this petition and pass it on to as many people as possible. 

Blake Green
5,300 supporters
Petitioning Colorado Governor, Colorado State Senate, John Hickenlooper, Colorado State House, Donald Trump, Barack Obama

Enact a Law that Requires Schools to call 911 and to report all crimes to police.

Our 11 year old son Kyler was bullied to tears everyday at Carmel Middle School. He was bullied about not having brand new shoes, was called white trash regularly and told he should live in a dumpster. Kyler has a type of tendon deformation that caused him to walk on his tippy toes, so his shoes would break regularly and look very worn out quickly. We were working with his Doctors to correct this, so Kyler was placed into 2 full walking casts. We spoke with the school administrators numerous times about the bullying, but received little or no assistance. Kyler decided to try to combat the bullying with kindness by starting Kylers Kicks. Kyler started collecting shoes for any child who needed them, to prevent them from being bullied in school as well. While Kyler was in his walking casts, he was stabbed twice in passing in the hallway of Carmel Middle School on Oct. 7th, 2016. Kyler could not even defend himself against the stabbing with his casts on both of his legs. Carmel Middle School NEVER called an ambulance or even reported this to the police. My husband and I drove Kyler to Penrose ER ourselves. The Doctors at Penrose called CSPD and filed the Colorado Springs Police Report from the hospital. Kyler was then emergency transported to Childrens Hospital Colorado in Aurora for emergency trauma surgery for a punctured and collapsed lung due to the stab wound in his chest. The Emergency Doctors called Carmel Middle School. The Doctors could not get any information from Carmel Middle School about the stabbing to help them during the emergency surgery. Apparently, there is NO Law that requires schools to report a stabbing or call an ambulance while your child is on their campus. Kyler, at 11 years old almost lost his life while attending school during this incident. The little boy that stabbed Kyler in the chest was not arrested until almost a month later on Oct. 31st. He was arrested with a mandatory 5 day jail hold, due to the extreme life threatening injuries to Kyler. Unfortunately, our juvenile system is too full, so he was released from custody  before the state mandatory 5 day hold after simply 1 day in custody. He was released on Nov.1st. The little boy is still attending Carmel Middle School as normal, enjoying his eduction and playing with friends. He will be offered only 1 year of probation with the less then a day jail time which he has already served.  His next courtdate is Feb. 7th, 2017 for stabbing our son twice in the hallway of school. The adults that neglected to call an ambulance or the police to help Kyler are still in charge of our children at Carmel Middle School. Our family's life will never be the same. Kyler will never attend school again. Kyler does not even feel safe leaving our home and now suffers from extreme PTSD and terrible chest pains. Please help us get justice for Kyler and for every other child attending Carmel Middle School. It is not acceptable that we as parents can and will be charged to the fullest extent of the law for neglecting to report a crime against our child to our police departments or for neglecting to call an ambulance for emergency medical care, but the adults that we are forced to entrust our children with at school everyday have no requirement to supply emergency medical or legal help to a child while attending school. We need a new law to protect every child's right to correct and swift emergency medical care and police support while they are attending our public schools. 

Sherise Nipper
2,087 supporters
Petitioning Alabama State House, Alaska State House, Arizona State House, Arkansas State House, California State House, Colorado State House, Hawaii State House, Idaho State House, Illinois State House, Indian...

Save Lives: Require Spinal Muscular Atrophy Newborn Screening

August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness Month. Please join our efforts to require SMA newborn screening, and help end the deadly effects of SMA.  About SMA: •  SMA is the number one genetic killer of babies and children under the age of two.•  SMA is a motor neuron disease like ALS.•  SMA robs the ability to move, swallow, and eventually breathe. •  One in 40 unknowingly carries the gene responsible for SMA.•  When two carriers have a baby, there is a 25% chance the baby will have SMA, a 50% chance the baby will be a carrier, and a 25% chance the baby will be unaffected.•  One in 10,000 babies is born with SMA.  The FDA approved Spinraza as the first treatment for SMA on December 23, 2016. However, newborns continue to go untreated when they would receive the most benefit, as no states are performing SMA newborn screening. Newly diagnosed Type 1 SMA babies treated with Spinraza didn't lose their ability to move, swallow, and breathe, but instead gained strength. Some even crawled and took steps — steps away from the deadly effects of SMA. Newborn babies treated within the first two weeks never lost abilities to SMA, and developed as average babies do. They crawl, eat, stand, and walk. Only newborns with older SMA siblings have been treated this way, as their parents knew to screen for SMA. Every newborn needs to be screened for SMA, so babies born with SMA can develop just as babies without SMA do.  For this to happen, SMA needs to be added to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP), states need to require SMA newborn screening, and funding needs to be provided for SMA newborn screening. The Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (Committee) is scheduled to vote to add SMA to the RUSP at its February, 2018 meeting. Once the Committee votes favorably to add SMA to the RUSP, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will add SMA to the RUSP. This is an important step, as many states look to the RUSP when adding new conditions to screen for. This petition will be delivered to both the Committee, and the Secretary of HHS. States also need to require newborn screening, as the RUSP is only a recommendation, it does not mandate states to test for conditions. We will continue to pursue SMA newborn screening in every state, and this petition will help our efforts. Missouri is the only state to enact newborn screening legislation, and will begin screening for SMA in January of 2019. Federal and state funds are also needed to begin and continue SMA newborn screening. This petition will help us as we advocate for funding with the appropriate federal and state congressional members. Act Now: With an FDA-approved treatment, it is urgent we secure SMA newborn screening. Newborn babies treated within the first two weeks will have the best chance at progressing as they would without SMA. Every baby born with SMA should be afforded this life-saving treatment. Please sign our petition urging Committee to vote to add SMA to the RUSP, urging states to require SMA newborn screening, and urging federal and state congressional members to provide funding for SMA newborn screening.   

Hunter Has Hope
1,577 supporters
Petitioning Colorado Governor

We would like a sentence reduction for Brian Lee, William Lee and Eric Lightner, either through commutation or clemency. They have served 22 years as of January 2015 and we would like them to be released with time served

In the summer of 1992, which came to be known as ‘The Summer of Violence’ in Denver, CO, Brian, William and Eric were involved in an life changing nightmare from which they have yet to emerge. They were part of what was called a drive-by shooting that cost a young man his life. They were all three convicted as the shooter and sentenced to life plus 50 years. However, the gun was never found, nor placed in anyone’s hand. Information gathered at the time supports their claim that the victim died as a result of ‘friendly fire’. Evidence that would have supported this theory conveniently disappeared. This was just one of the comedy of errors that permeated this case. Another example would be the pejorative testimony that the Judge and the lawyers allowed.It has been a long time now. Twenty-two years this week. Long enough for the whole episode to be forgotten by the cops, the lawyers and just about everybody else. But to three graying convicts and their families, it's still unfinished business, a problem that has to be solved. Eric Lightner remembers that night like it was yesterday. Sitting in a sparse prison visiting room with brothers Brian and William Lee, he goes over it all again: It's just past three in the morning on June 14, 1992, a frenetic Saturday night fading into a somber Sunday morning. Brian, 22 years old, is at the wheel of his blue 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass with the gold rims, headed east on Martin Luther King Boulevard, headed home. Eric, 21, is in the passenger seat. William, a month shy of 19, is in the back. Approaching Steele Street, they roll up next to a 1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic wagon. Lightner looks over at the driver, Damon Roberts, also known as D-Dog, a member of the 187 AK (Anybody Killer) Gangster Crips. Roberts glares back. "I don't know what was said," Lightner says. "We had the music up kind of loud, and the music in Roberts's car was even louder. He looked like he was upset. His face was frowned up, his mouth was moving. We knew it was hostile." "He said, 'What y'all wanna do? This is Crip,'" adds William Lee. "I said, 'Fuck Crip.' I don't know if he heard me or not." "Personally, I didn't really know Damon Roberts," Lightner says. "According to the police, there were four people in that car, but I didn't see them. I just saw him." Lightner saw D-Dog, and then he saw a gun in D-Dog's hand. Of that he is certain. "I see Damon Roberts reaching down, like he's trying to get something from under the seat," he says. "Then I see the handle of the gun in his hand." It's a moment frozen in time — a moment of decision, one of those forks in the road from which there is no turning back. The actions of the next few seconds changed everything. When it was over, the Malibu wagon stood idle near Madison Street, with two flat tires and five bullet holes along the driver's side. Damon Roberts sat in the street clutching at his left thigh, bleeding from a gunshot wound. One of his passengers, 15-year-old Tiffany Locke, flagged down cars, calling out frantically for an ambulance. Another, Robert McGregor, also 15, looked in disbelief at the body of his 23-year-old cousin, James, in the back seat, dead from a single shot to the heart. To the Denver press, the shooting was a drive-by crime of the times, one more senseless killing in a city in the throes of gang violence. It seemed to fit a familiar pattern: bellicose young men from rival sets square off, eye-fuck each other, bandy insults or flash signs — and then the gats come out. More young lives ruined or cut short, another occasion for mourning and soul-searching in east Denver's African-American community. Prosecutors would argue that the killing of James McGregor was, in fact, one of the more heinous acts of gang violence the city had seen up to that point because it was not random at all. They claimed that Lightner and the Lee brothers had gone out looking for Roberts to "do some dirt" — to get payback for an altercation at a club earlier that night between the Crips and members of the Gangsters of Love, a "street gang" associated with the Lees. Aided by information from eyewitnesses, the Denver police arrested Lightner and the Lees 35 minutes after the shooting. All three were charged with numerous felonies, ranging from murder and conspiracy to second-degree assault. The three went to trial together — a tumultuous proceeding during which several witnesses changed their stories or refused to testify, prompting Denver District Court Judge Richard Spriggs to complain that the courthouse "reeked of perjury." All three were convicted of first-degree murder and are now serving identical sentences of life without parole plus fifty years. Lightner and the Lees exhausted their legal appeals years ago. They have exemplary records at the Limon Correctional Facility, the high-security prison where they have now spent half their lives. They have matured into quiet, disciplined individuals, respected by other inmates and staff alike. They hope to one day be considered for Colorado's clemency process, a pardon or reduction of their sentence by the governor. But there's a catch: Clemency candidates are expected to take responsibility for their crimes. William and Brian Lee and Eric Lightner have expressed remorse for what they say is their role in what happened that night 22 years ago, but they insist — and have always insisted — that they didn't kill anyone. "We're not innocent," says Brian Lee. "We're guilty of being in that thing and shooting at them. But we didn't kill James McGregor. We're sorry as all outdoors for his death. If we could bring him back, we would. But we can't. And we don't want to be in prison the rest of our lives for something we didn't do." Police investigators recovered a semi-automatic TEC-9 when they arrested Lightner and the Lees. Testing soon established that the gun had been used to spray the Malibu with bullets; shell casings left at the scene and slugs in the tires of the car matched the weapon. But ballistics also indicated that the bullet that killed McGregor came from a different gun, one that was never found. In effect, three men are now serving life for one fatal shot — even though prosecutors never established which one of them fired that shot, or whose gun it was, or the wayward path the bullet must have taken to strike the victim square in the chest where he sat in the back seat behind the driver, next to a window that was up and intact after the shooting stopped. The missing murder weapon is just one of many troublesome issues in the conviction, which hinged on several assertions made at trial that the men in Limon say are simply untrue. The death of James McGregor was supposed to have been the result of gang warfare, but Lightner and the Lees, as well as former gangbangers who've known them for years, insist that they were never in a gang. It was supposed to have been payback, but the occupants of the Cutlass say they had no beef with D-Dog and no reason to be hunting him. Most of all, it was supposed to have been murder, not self-defense; for all three to be found guilty of killing McGregor, the jury had to believe that they planned in concert to go out and do some dirt. Yet ballistics findings, witness accounts — some of which surfaced before the trial, some years later — and even the bizarre sequence of escalating violence that night suggests otherwise. That evidence also indicates that there was, as Lightner has always maintained, at least one gun in the other car, setting up a more complicated shooting scenario than the one presented in court. Yet the fear of gangs, the specter of gangbangers roaming the streets and gunning for each other — turning MLK Boulevard into a "virtual war zone," as one prosecutor put it — hung over the trial like a toxic cloud. It was surely on more than one juror's mind as the panel returned a verdict that would send the defendants to prison for life. All three remember exactly what they were feeling when the verdicts were read. "I broke down and cried," says William Lee. "It was just crushing." "It took my breath away," says Brian Lee. "I don't think I've regained that breath yet." Lightner didn't allow the terrible finality of the judgment to sink in. "I didn't think we would be here that long," he says. "We would get back in court in a year or two, get the conviction overturned, and that would be the end of it. Never once did I think we'd be sitting here 22 years later." ********** To hear Gail Lee tell it, her boys spent their youth running away from gangs, not with them. The whole point of the Gangsters of Love — which consisted of William and Brian and a few cousins and close friends — was a repudiation of street violence. It infuriates her that the term "GOL" was used at trial to label her sons as thugs. "I was a working mother, and I tried to show my children the positive things in life," she says. "I kept them close. Back when I was driving for RTD, if I saw William walking down the street, I made him get on the bus with me." Gail came from a big family — a dozen siblings, more than fifty first cousins. Brian and William had only one older sister, but there were scores of other relatives to play with, scattered from their neighborhood in Park Hill to Aurora and beyond. It was while visiting cousins in Montbello that Brian, age twelve, met Eric Lightner for the first time. "We would just get together and do things," Lightner says. "Might be the East Denver Y, or basketball courts in Aurora or at the women's college on Montview or City Park. Sometimes we would catch the bus and go to Celebrity Sports Center." By the mid-S, offshoots of California street gangs were beginning to make their presence felt in Denver's black neighborhoods. The pressure on teens to pick sides, in search of status, cash or protection, was intense. In Montbello, Lightner felt few of the tremors of the gangs' rising influence; he was much more focused on sports and preparing for college. For the Lees, though, the situation in Park Hill was rapidly deteriorating. "On one side was the Crips, on the other was the Bloods," recalls Demond Robbins, a close friend of the Lees. "There was a handful of us who didn't want to join none of them." At Gove Middle School, William Lee got sucker-punched by a member of the Bloods, who dislodged some teeth. At Manual High School, his brother Brian got jumped by Crips. Gail took Brian to the police station to file a complaint — and was dismayed when the officers frisked her son and then started tossing gang terms at him. "I just went ballistic," she recalls. "They asked me what 'dis' means. Well, my kids don't talk street talk." Her sons told her that the gangs were harassing them, threatening them, even chasing them down the street. Gail didn't know what to think. Then it happened one time while she was driving them home; a pack of youths tailed her yellow Sunbird and shouted at them. "I was bewildered," she says. "I wanted to get out and tell these kids to stop. Brian said, 'Mama, they're going to shoot you.' I didn't believe it. I knew the mothers of a lot of these young men." The Lee boys came up with their own response to the problem. Along with Lightner, Robbins and a few others, they declared themselves the Gangsters of Love. They started wearing pink as their chosen color. It sounded like a crew, or maybe a parody of a crew, but the only banging they were interested in was the kind that took place between the sheets. "Our thing was to see how many women we could, for lack of a better word, bed," Brian Lee explains. "I had a net that we used to collect women's underwear in." "We just sort of made it up," Robbins says. "It was just a group of friends, like a close family. It was never a gang." "It was about the girls," says Paletha Barnes, Brian's older sister. The Gangsters of Love didn't show up on the Denver Police Department's gang list as a criminal entity. Several of its members were making their mark in other ways. At 22, Brian Lee was working as a handyman to support his three sons. By the time he was eighteen, William had two sons of his own. Aside from a menacing charge Brian had picked up over a domestic situation, the Lees and Lightner had avoided any kind of serious police record. Still, trouble seemed to be collecting around them as the summer of '92 approached. Lightner was finishing his first year at Metropolitan State College, but William had dropped out of high school. A few days before the shooting of James McGregor, both of the Lee brothers were charged, along with their father, in a drug sting; they were accused of attempting to purchase cocaine from a friend who was secretly working for the police. Barnes acknowledges that her brothers were involved in activities that they never shared with her or her mother. "We were a very close family," she says. "We were taught to respect our elders and not talk back. But there were things they would do that they never brought into the house." Like all young men, they had their secrets. The Intratec TEC-9, for instance. Brian had acquired the handgun, the favored gat of urban adventurers everywhere, months before the shooting. He put it in the Olds whenever he went to a club, concert or other event where bangers might be acting up. He had never fired it, but he figured a man with a $3,000 wheel package should have some protection against being jacked. Every other young male of color seemed to be armed to the teeth, so why not him? "That was a pretty chaotic time," he says now. "Carrying a weapon just seemed to come with the territory. Truth be told, had I not had a TEC-9, I would have had another gun." ********** Demond Robbins is sure that his friend Eric Lightner is telling the truth, that the driver of the Malibu wagon had a gun that night. He knows this because he saw D-Dog's gun himself, less than an hour before Lightner did. It was pointed right at him. It's not something you forget, not even after 22 years. Robbins's confrontation with Roberts came in the parking lot of a Thornton nightclub during let-out. But it wasn't a Gangsters of Love versus Crips thing, he says. More like a Demond-Damon thing. "I went to school with Damon Roberts," Robbins says. "We had our disagreements — from high school all the way up. The argument started inside, and we already had a beef with each other. Then it escalated outside." That night, several members of the GOL decide to check out an all-ages concert at the Arena, a club in Thornton. William Lee is there, along with his girlfriend, Nakia Gilmore, and his cousins, Tajuana McKinley and Aaron Qualls. So are Robbins, a young man named Carl Bennett, and a few others. Various Bloods, Crips and Hispanic gangbangers also decide to put in an appearance. It's a volatile mix. As closing time nears, the skirmishing begins — shoving matches, chairs hurling through the air. The security team cranks up the lights and orders everybody to clear out. In the parking lot, Bennett, who'd gotten into an argument inside with a Crip known as Pooh, is decked by a fist flying out of a crowd. Other fights erupt, and Thornton police are summoned to help shut things down. William Lee leaves in a car with Gilmore and McKinley. Qualls helps the still-woozy Bennett into another car. Meanwhile, Robbins carries on his animated argument with Roberts, who's behind the wheel of his Malibu and attempting to leave the parking lot. Robbins blocks his way. According to Robbins, D-Dog bends down beneath the dashboard. When he comes back up, he has a black automatic in his hand — something bigger than a .22, possibly a .38 or .380. And points it at him. "If you're going to pull it, you better use it," Robbins says. Thornton police officer David Zabroski sees Robbins arguing heatedly with the driver of the Malibu. He grabs Robbins, handcuffs him and puts him in his patrol car. Robbins tells him that D-Dog has a gun. Zabroski performs what he would later describe as a "quick search" of the Malibu "involving the seats and under them." He also searches the car's occupants, Roberts and Tiffany Locke. He doesn't find any weapon. He tells them all to get moving. The Malibu is barely out of the lot before it becomes involved in another ruckus on 84th Avenue. A witness sees a small sports car pull alongside D-Dog's wagon and start shooting. (Locke would later testify that some "Mexican guys" in the sports car got offended at Roberts's weaving in and out of traffic and opened fire at them, then sped off.) Roberts pulls off the road, and he and Locke are promptly joined by James and Robert McGregor, who emerge from another car. The four of them then head to a car wash at 35th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, where they check the Malibu for bullet holes and find none. Another Crip at the car wash advises D-Dog that he shouldn't be "tripping" over what just happened but should just go home. But Roberts isn't yet ready to call it a night. A scant two miles away, at 34th and York, William Lee spots his brother's blue Olds while on his own way home from the Arena debacle. His girlfriend, Kia, pulls over so William can climb into the Olds with Brian and Eric Lightner — and tell them about Bennett being waylaid by a Crip outside the club. Lightner and the older Lee hadn't gone to the all-ages gathering; they'd been drinking at another club and had been on their way to a Five Points "gambling shack" patronized by Crips. But from what William tells them about the troubles that night, it sounds smarter to head home, to their mother's house in Mayfair. They turn east, onto MLK. The teenage girls, Gilmore and McKinley, follow in Gilmore's car. After a few blocks, they are suddenly jowl-to-jowl with D-Dog's ride. The Malibu is in the right lane, headed east; the Olds is in the left. Damon Roberts does not look happy to see them. He probably recognizes the car, maybe even recognizes William from the rumble at the Arena and figures these lads are looking for trouble. At least, that is what Lightner believes. Lightner sees Roberts reach down and come up with the gun. "As soon as I see the gun in his hand, I grab the TEC-9 under the armrest," he says. "When I point it out the window, he ducks beneath the window. We don't see anybody else in the car. I proceed to try to shoot the tires out." Yes, it's college boy Lightner who fires the TEC-9, scattering shell casings over a couple of blocks as the two vehicles weave and accelerate, everybody ducking and yelling. Driving half a block behind them, Nakia Gilmore would later report seeing flashes from both cars; Tajuana McKinley ducks at the sound of gunfire and doesn't see much of anything until the Malibu comes to a stop at Madison. Then Tiffany Locke, a good friend of both girls, gets out screaming. The Olds barrels into the night. The first police car arrives minutes later, then an ambulance that takes Roberts to the hospital. It's too late for James McGregor. His cousin Robert didn't get a good look at the occupants of the other car, but Locke readily identifies William and Brian Lee and provides a description of the third man. She directs the police to Gail Lee's house on Jersey Street, where Brian, William and Eric are arrested at 3:45 in the morning — only minutes after the three had arrived home, after dropping off the Olds at Brian's girlfriend's place and walking the remaining few blocks. A search of the premises finds a TEC-9 with an eighteen-round clip, stashed in the trunk of a yellow Pontiac parked in back of the house. It's a swift solve for the DPD, but there's one problem. When the ballistics come back, it turns out that the bullet that killed McGregor, as well as the slug in Roberts's leg, are both .38 caliber. They didn't come from the TEC-9, a nine-millimeter weapon. The fourteen rounds Lightner fired at the other car didn't injure or kill anyone. ********** From the start, the police had ample reason to believe that what went down on MLK Boulevard that night was a cold-blooded ambush. All three of the surviving victims described the attack as unprovoked; they heard shouts of "GOL," they said, and then the dudes in the other car opened fire. Under such circumstances, any claim of self-defense seemed absurd. There were no bullet holes in the Olds, and a search of the bullet-riddled Malibu — which had also been searched by Officer Zabroski just an hour before the shooting — didn't turn up any weapons. True, the lack of the actual murder weapon was a puzzle. But there could have been two shooters in the Olds, two guns — and the suspects ditched one of them before the arrest. In interviews with police detectives, Locke said she thought she saw William Lee firing at the Malibu; Roberts said he heard two different guns going off. But the ballistics problems with the case went deeper than simply the absence of the gun that killed McGregor. Gunshot residue tests on the Lees and Lightner failed to establish that any of them had fired a gun. Tests for gunpowder residue inside the Olds proved that a firearm had been discharged in the car, but so did tests on the Malibu. And tests on the cotton gloves worn by the deceased, James McGregor — an odd fashion choice in the middle of June, but not entirely unknown among members of the Rolling 30 Crips — indicated that he had recently discharged a weapon himself. At the insistence of defense lawyers, police technicians went over the Malibu more closely. They found one exit hole in the back-seat passenger door, where McGregor had been sitting, that indicated a bullet had been fired from inside the car. There was no way of telling when that hole had been made, any more than there was a way of nailing down the precise time McGregor had fired a gun. Other anomalies kept surfacing. A jacket that had been lying under McGregor when he was found, clearly depicted in crime-scene photos, was apparently never logged into evidence. Defense attorneys speculated that the missing jacket could have contained a weapon, or possibly have powder burns if the shot that killed McGregor had actually been fired by someone in the Malibu, trying to return fire from the Olds. There was also another fatal shooting that evening that the defense attorneys found too weirdly coincidental to ignore. At 2:40 a.m., a gas-station attendant named James Ridpath was killed by a stray bullet outside a Diamond Shamrock at East 83rd Avenue and Washington Street — right about the same time and at the same location that D-Dog's Malibu had endured yet another supposedly unprovoked attack by the shooters in the blue sports car. Although records indicate that the bullet that killed Ridpath was a .38, it didn't have the same kind of rifling as the bullets that killed McGregor and wounded Roberts, and prosecutors rejected the idea that the killings were somehow related. The Ridpath homicide has never been solved. Yet the case against Lightner and the Lees didn't rest solely on the test results. The police had gathered numerous witness statements, including the solid identification of the Lees by Locke, who'd known them for years. But some of the witness accounts were even hinkier than the physical evidence. Besides Locke, the star witness for the prosecution was a seventeen-year-old high-school football player named Aaron Qualls. Qualls was a cousin of the Lees and particularly close to William. He had been at the Arena that night when things started getting rough, and he had been at Gail Lee's house, waiting for a ride home to Aurora from his mother, when the police arrived. He had been arrested along with the Lees and Lightner and had given a videotaped statement to a detective a few hours later. Qualls told the detective that he'd left the Arena in the Olds with Brian, William and Eric Lightner. He said his cousins were angry over the clocking of their friend Carl Bennett and that Brian vowed to show the Crips what real gangbanging was all about: "If they want to get their OG involved, then I'm going to get involved." On the way home they spotted D-Dog's Malibu but decided to go get their guns before confronting him. Brian said he had the "keys" to the TEC-9, Qualls explained, while William "says something like he knows were the Tre-57 is." They dropped Qualls off at the house on Jersey Street, telling him they were going to "do some dirt." According to Qualls, Brian Lee went so far as to declare, "There is going to be a murder tonight, son, and you don't need to get involved." The three left and returned forty minutes later, right around the same time the police and Qualls's mother showed up. From a prosecution standpoint, the statement was dynamite. It offered a motive, indicated that William had armed himself with a second weapon — a .357 Magnum, which could fire a .38 round — and conveniently cleaned up a lot of other loose ends. But in certain basic details, it was at odds with just about every other witness account of what happened. Out of dozens of witnesses interviewed by police, Qualls was the only one to claim that Brian Lee and Eric Lightner were at the Arena club that night. Other witnesses saw them drinking at a club across town well after two in the morning, around the time the fights were breaking out at the Arena. Qualls didn't leave with them, and he didn't leave with William, either — not according to Gilmore and McKinley, who were with the younger Lee until he got into his brother's Olds, shortly before the shooting. A man named Richard Walton said that he drove Qualls from the club to the Lee house on Jersey; that squares with other witness accounts. There was simply no opportunity for Qualls to hear the crucial conversations about premeditated murder that he described to police. And there wasn't sufficient time for the Lees to spot the Malibu on the way home, drive three miles to arm themselves, then return and find the Malibu in almost the same place they'd left it. Because of being detained by the search for a gun in the Arena parking lot, D-Dog apparently didn't leave Thornton until close to 2:45. He drove to east Denver, hung out at the car wash, then headed onto MLK Boulevard. Police estimate that the shooting happened at around 3:10. No one attacked the veracity of the Qualls statement more than Qualls himself, who recanted soon after he made it. He said the police told him that they had a witness who placed him in the Olds that night and that he was facing forty years in prison. His mother and grandmother urged him to "do whatever he had to do" to get out of the situation, so he drew on details he knew — such as the fact that Brian had a TEC-9 he stored in an old car behind the house — and concocted the rest. Now 39 years old, Qualls is still haunted by what he said all those years ago. He was a junior at Gateway High School, he says, who loved to play middle linebacker and had no street experience at all. He knew it was possible, though, for young black men to go to prison for things they didn't do. "They took me to the police station, and I told them I didn't know anything," he recalls. "Then they started saying there's a person dead, that all the dreams I had are going to go down the drain, that I'm going to get life in prison because I know something. They were threatening me to the point where I was actually terrified. I had never been in trouble with the law ever in my life." The detective who questioned Qualls denied threatening him in any way. The youth's mother and grandmother were present during the questioning, he noted. On the eve of trial, the Denver District Attorney's Office offered the defendants a deal — plead guilty to second-degree murder and receive a sentence of no more than thirty years. It's a deal that looks better than ever in hindsight; under the statutes of the time, Lightner and the Lee brothers could have been out in fifteen years. But to their younger selves, the offer seemed like a mountain of time for a crime they denied committing. "At 22, if someone's telling you to take a thirty-year deal, all you're thinking is you're going to be in prison until you're fifty," Brian Lee says. They turned down the offer. ********** A trial isn't always about facts. Sometimes it's about competing narratives. The side that tells the best story — not necessarily the most logical one, but the most compelling one — has an excellent chance of carrying the day. Jurors are suckers for good stories. Lightner and the Lee brothers went on trial for murder in the spring of '93, just before a season of drive-by carnage and random shootings that would be dubbed Denver's "Summer of Violence." The moniker was more media hype than reality — in sheer body count, that summer was less violent than the summer of '92 — but the rising tide of gang violence was a frequent topic of discussion around the city even before the label arrived. It was a theme sounded early and often by Deputy District Attorney Doug Jackson during the trial, starting with the fourth sentence of his opening statement to the jury. The case they were about to hear, he explained, is about "a conflict between two different groups of people...who happened to belong to different street gangs in Denver." The prosecution's story line was simple: The Gangsters of Love were a "rival gang" of the Crips, possibly affiliated with the Bloods. The three hotheads in the Olds went out seeking revenge for the humiliations inflicted on their homies at the Arena. They fired indiscriminately at the Malibu, killed one man and wounded another, tossed one of their gats but kept the other, and went home. Tiffany Locke was a reluctant witness. Only sixteen years old, torn between her loyalty to the people in the Malibu and her friendships with various people associated with the Lees, she claimed not to have seen anything or identified anybody doing the shooting. She also denied that anyone had threatened her. After she was finished testifying, she sent a note to Judge Spriggs, claiming that she'd been high on alcohol, marijuana and LSD that night. Attempts to locate her and call her back to the stand went nowhere. Spriggs declined to share the note with the jury, calling it "a calculated attempt to cause a mistrial" and its author "one of the most transparent liars I have ever seen in my life." Aaron Qualls was a reluctant witness, too. He had a doctor write a note, explaining that he was fearful of gang retaliation if he testified — but the doctor messed it all up, implying that it was "his cousin's gang" he was afraid of. ("I've never had a reason to be afraid of my cousins," he says now.) When the note didn't spare him, he took the stand and insisted his statement about overhearing the plotting of the GOL's revenge was a complete fabrication. The reluctance merely played into the story line — that the Gangsters of Love were something to be feared. The more these teenage witnesses tried to retreat from their own prior statements, the more weight the prosecution seemed to give those statements. "Despite the fact that both of those witnesses have been impeached in many ways," Judge Spriggs ruled, "and have given different, conflicting and wholly irreconcilable versions of their testimony, it's up to the jury to sort it out and determine which, if any, of the statements given by them is true." The story told by the defense was more chaotic, fragmentary and complicated. A random collision of young people who were packing more firepower than sense. A phantom murder weapon that could just as easily have been ditched by the people in the Malibu as those in the Olds. A police investigation that had failed to secure key evidence and bullied a false statement out of a scared teenager. Pieces of the story went missing. A friend of D-Dog's claimed that Locke had told him that a gun went off in the Malibu that night and asked him to hide two .38 pistols. Summoned to testify by the defense, the man decided to take a plane to Houston instead. Locke denied that the conversation ever took place. A "bullet path reconstruction expert" hired by the defense testified that the bullet holes in the the Malibu couldn't be matched up in any reasonable way with the wounds inflicted on Roberts and McGregor. But Judge Spriggs had been skeptical from the start of the notion that the victim had been killed by friendly fire, quipping at one hearing, "There isn't a grassy knoll, is there?" None of the defendants testified. Unable to secure separate trials, they had made a pact to stick together. If one of them didn't want to take the plea deal, none of them would. If one of them declined to testify, none of them would. One for all, all for one. Or, as Brian Lee put it, many years later: "All three were going to have to go down — not one of us, not two of us." And so they did. Sitting together mute at the defense table, they looked like the gangbangers the prosecution said they were. The jury was out one day before finding all three guilty of the murder "by extreme indifference" of James McGregor and the attempted murder of Roberts, Locke and Robert McGregor. At the sentencing hearing, Spriggs called the crime "a sad affair," a case of young men who foolishly decided "to show the rest of the world just how tough they are...and they probably would have gotten away with it if they'd not had the bad luck to go shoot up a car full of people which happened to contain a young lady who knows all of them and who immediately informed the police who was responsible for this." Spriggs noted that he'd been inundated by letters in support of the three defendants. He scoffed at a petition being circulated that claimed the three were being "railroaded" because of their race. "These are hard choices these young men have made, two really bad choices," he said. "One, in doing what they did, and two, in not accepting the offer that was extended to them. But ultimately, we all have to be responsible for our own acts." "We didn't do it," William Lee said. ********** Damon "D-Dog" Roberts didn't live to see the Gangsters of Love convicted of trying to kill him. He died in late 1992 of gunshot wounds inflicted in a drug deal gone bad. He was twenty years old. The two other passengers in his car the night James McGregor was killed have passed away, too. Tiffany Locke died in a traffic accident in 2001, at the age of 24. In 1999, after a series of domestic troubles, Robert McGregor killed his two-year-old daughter and then took his own life. He was 22. Eric Lightner and the Lee brothers have spent the last two decades at the Limon penitentiary. Inseparable as youths, they are now a middle-aged posse of three, looking out for each other and bolstering each other. "Brian got here four or five days before us," Lightner recalls. "Me and William came together. It was a rude awakening. But when you got here, you had older dudes pulling you aside, saying, 'Hey, youngster, it's going to be all right, as long as you stay away from the three Ps — pills, punks and poker. Just mind your business.'" William Lee says they've done exactly that, skirting the prison gangs and relying on each other: "We've been trying to keep ourselves busy, stay away from a lot of negativity." Over the years, the three have continued to hunt for new evidence in their case. Leads have come from odd places, including former Crips doing time themselves. Much of the information was presented in a 1998 hearing before Denver District Court Judge John McMullen. Larry Webster, a close friend of Damon Roberts's, testified that he supplied the guns that Roberts had that night and that Locke told him she'd buried the guns. Another convict, Samuel Deas, testified that he'd heard that a gun had gone off in the back of the car, killing James McGregor. A third, Killou Ford, said that Roberts was his best friend and had admitted to him that both he and McGregor were "heated," or armed, that night. Roberts, who wore a medallion with the emblem of a gun around his neck, had a special stash area under the Malibu dash for hiding weapons, he said. "I don't have any question that he was shooting back," Ford testified. "I know him, knowing our activities at the time." Asked to clarify what activities he was talking about, Ford replied, "Just wild shooting, and, you know, just not caring too much." Tiffany Locke also testified. She denied saying anything to Webster or Deas about hiding guns. She denied there were any guns in the Malibu. No longer a recalcitrant witness, she stood by what she told the police in her initial statement, determined not to "let my homeboy die in vain." "I don't want to see anybody do life," she said. "I'm sorry, you know, but I have a dead homeboy." Judge McMullen wasn't impressed by the jailhouse witnesses. The defendants' bid for a new trial was denied. But at some point after that hearing, Locke had another change of heart. After Robert McGregor's death, she was the last surviving victim in the case, and she seemed deeply troubled about the life sentences handed out to Lightner and the Lees. She even provided Gail Lee with a short, signed and notarized statement: "The night James McGregor was killed, we did have guns in the car. I don't think that the gentlemen that are incarcerated killed him. I think he accidentally killed himself while trying to shoot at them." She hinted to others that someone else in the car had fired the fatal shot. "I'd see her over the years, and she would say that she was sorry that she didn't tell the truth," says Tajuana McKinley. "She said the bullet came from inside the car." Prosecutor Jackson, now a chief deputy DA, says the jury got it right back in 1993. "I do not have doubts about the correctness of the convictions," he wrote in a recent e-mail response to Westword. "There is no question about the joint involvement of these three defendants in the shooting that killed James McGregor." Despite Locke's claims, he adds, the friendly-fire theory remains "fantastical" and "contrary to the physical evidence, scientific evidence, and other evidence in the case." Lightner and the Lees have taken all the self-improvement programs offered in a place like Limon and gone decades without any significant disciplinary violations. Schooled by old-timers when they arrived, they're now mentors themselves. "It's been a long journey," Lightner says. "I've been observing my circumstances, and I come to find out that there are a lot of twenty-, thirty-, forty-, fifty-year-old boys in here. There are individuals in here who are old enough to be our parents, but I can't go to them and learn anything. I try to pull a youngster aside and say, 'You're going about this the wrong way,' but it's a lot harder these days. I see a lot of riffraff." Jackson says he would oppose any reduction in sentence for the three: "I do not doubt that the defendants have had good behavior while in prison...but do they yet acknowledge responsibility for these crimes?" In letters to Governor John Hickenlooper, prepared as part of their clemency application, the three express regret for endangering the lives of the people in the other car that night, for their rank immaturity and recklessness. The one bad act they don't admit to is the one they say they didn't commit, the one for which they are serving life — firing the fatal shot. Three years ago, outgoing governor Bill Ritter commuted the sentence of former Blood Sean Taylor, who'd served 22 years of a life sentence for a murder committed when he was a teenager. Taylor knew the Lees from the neighborhood before he went to prison, and he got to know them better at Limon. "If any three individuals deserve a second chance, it's those guys right there," says Taylor, who now works for the Second Chance Center, a nonprofit that helps parolees transition back to productive lives. "You have to be aware of the things you've done, and you need to know who you've affected. They're trying to make up for all of it." The families of inmates doing life either cut them loose or end up, in some sense, serving time themselves. The families of Lightner and the Lees are still marking the days. "It's hard to go up there," says Barnes, the Lees' sister. "But I've always said I don't believe it's God's plan for them to stay up there all their lives." William Lee is training to be an electrician. Harry Lightner says his brother reads all the time and has become a walking encyclopedia. Sons Gavin and Brian Lee Jr. say their father has done everything he can to be involved in their lives and help them make "sound, controlled decisions." "I feel like I've been in jail the whole way with him," says Brian Jr. "He's taught me what not to do. I believe there's hope and that one day they'll be out." Brian Sr. spends his days in Limon moving forward, not back. "I came in here and have not participated in the hopelessness," he says. "This is one of the most violent prisons in Colorado. We have stayed away from that, in the hopes of one day getting redemption. I have tried to live my life as fully as I can within this confinement. And I have vowed to never become a product of my environment again. We weren't gang members, but in some ways we were the product of our environment." Wrote By Reporter Alan Prendergast.  The Denver Westword News Reading News

Gail A Lee
1,172 supporters
Petitioning Muriel Bowser (D. C. - Mayor), Dannel Malloy, Asa Hutchinson, John Hickenlooper, Rick Scott, Nathan Deal, David Ige, Bruce Rauner, Eric Holcomb, Kim Reynolds, Sam Brownback, John Bel Edwards, Paul ...

Stop The Statute of Limitations on ALL Child & Adult Sexual Assault #metoo #StopTheStatute

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/December-2016/Marc-Winner/ #metoo Please read until the end to begin to understand the scope of it all. ❤️� Hopefully we have just one more pre-trial on the 1st of 4 serial rape trials against Marc Winner and then the actual 1st trial will be set. Over 16 years, I hoped and prayed this day would actually never come, because although I knew he couldn’t stop-it was my greatest wish that he would, so no one else would be violently raped by him again. Painfully, that was not the case with 4 in the SOL and 10 total we know about in a 15 year period. The continuous promises made to me when they wanted me to be okay with the plea deal, were not kept. Woman after woman reported him only to be disbelieved and disregarded, because of archaic belief systems even within the justice system and Chicagoland Cook County City and Suburbs being on different computer systems. How senseless is that? It now does make sense though why only a few months after he raped me, he moved to Chicago and opened a new “award winning” tanning salon, he of course named after himself. It would seem he may have knowingly made the move with the help of his wealthy and powerful family and benefactors in order to stalk prey without scrutiny and undetected once again. I have been ruled a past crime witness, being his first known victim and first to report. We won’t know until the trials begin whether or not past crimes will be testifying and entered into evidence. Often the court system doesn’t want to do what can be referred to as “muddying the waters” by bringing past crimes in. I find that ridiculous because all the past crimes establish an obvious pattern and MO. However, whatever it takes for the rapist predator with a file as large as “War & Peace” to finally no longer slip through the cracks and be put behind bars for good, is fine by me. This has not been an easy road. It’s actually been harder than I would ever be able to explain. My sister and brother survivors understand why sexual assault is the most under reported crime, because coming forward in order to protect others from a monster has no upsides due to the revictimization of stigma, harassment, a pretty inept and broken system, and those who want to make rape of all things about politics or shaming and blaming the survivor rather than stopping the perp. It’s been a long 16+ years with much joy after I came to terms with the unthinkable, but I really got thrown for a loop that invasion day almost two years ago now when I found out he was back or I should say never actually left. For he remained active and my reporting him, going to all our trial dates, and his slap on the wrist plea deal didn’t keep him from continuing his proclivity to do irreparable and permanent harm. I do not feel any of the unfounded shame or blame any longer. I could really careless what the ignorant callous bullies towards survivors of rape think or say either. I do however feel an immense responsibility to my sisters who survived him, all sister and brother survivors, and the community at large to see this through to the end-to finish this-and to help convict him anyway that I lawfully can so he never hurts another living soul again. Many confusingly mock and attack survivor activists who put it all on the line to stop criminals by using the term social justice warrior as a negative connotation on the internet and elsewhere. However, what they don’t seem to understand is that this is NOT a political issue and a violent despicable crime such as rape can never be referred to as “social.” It’s a matter of stopping a violent criminal from seriously hurting others in a way that the survivors receive a life sentence. Rape is actually a CRIMINAL JUSTICE issue-always has been, always will be. As a Criminal Justice issue, one way to end the emboldening of predators like Marc Winner, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and Denny Hastert is to stop the SOL clock. Predators know very well that they have a time clock they can easily run out during the often decades of time it takes a victim to come forward and be a survivor. The time is NOW to #StopTheStatute of Limitations on sex crimes in every state for children and adults once and for all. There are no statutes in different states on Forgery, types of Fraud, Murder, Manslaughter, Attempted Murder, Arson, types of DUI accidents, and even in a few on Rape, but a few isn’t good enough-Rape is a life sentence, so should be the time period it takes to report it (which remember does not mean the lack of burden of proof) in order to help deter. The system needs to give survivors the time they need to come to terms with the heinous violation to their body and spirit in order to get closure and justice-How can’t everyone reasonably understand and get behind that? #Ibelieveyou#stopthestatute

Lesley Barton
1,125 supporters
Petitioning John Hickenlooper, Colorado State Senate, Colorado State House

Change the Law: Brewery Kegs

When A-Town Pizza was forced to close last month for owing back taxes, all of the restaurant's property was seized, which included kegs that they did not own. The problem is that breweries sell beer, not kegs. When a restaurant purchases beer from a brewery, there is an understanding that the kegs, the container itself, is leased from the brewery and that only the beer inside is purchased. The law doesn't see it that way.Instead, the law states that these kegs are the property of the city and instead of returning the kegs to the breweries, they plan on auctioning them off. That's because Section 130-74 of Aurora's tax law says that each brewery needs to file a lease agreement for each keg, for each location, with the city of Aurora. Each agreement costs $8 per agreement, and each keg costs the brewery $100 from the manufacturer. While $100 per keg may not be a lot of money to the city, or to larger corporate breweries, it is a lot of money for small local businesses. Breweries must also go through this process of submitting each lease every time a new keg is at a new account: https://vimeo.com/42864246 That's why we are asking the state of Colorado to change the tax law that makes an exception for requiring rental agreements be filed with the city for all kegs owned by breweries, cideries, and wineries. 9NEWS Report: http://www.9news.com/news/local/next/city-of-aurora-has-odyssey-beerworks-kegs-and-is-not-giving-them-back/470763171

Scott Davidson
788 supporters
Petitioning John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Colorado State House

Get rid of Denver, Co pit bull ban

I want to get rid of this ban due to the fact that it's discrimination against a single breed. Factual evidence shows that pit bulls are not the only animal breed that attacks people. I also want people to understand that pit bulls aren't the major problem it's the way they are being raised everywhere not just here in Colorado. The problem is world wide and most of the attacks comes from stray dogs. Why not enforce the laws on stray dogs and get them out of the streets so that they can't harm people? I just want this world to be equal even if that means taking small steps. Finally I think the ban should be at least looked into because of how long it's been since it was put out there. 

Devin Rob
656 supporters
Place Fee on Plastic and Paper Bags - Save the Environment Before it's Too Late

I think it's wonderful that you want to work on environmental issues and plastic in our environment is a problem for all the reasons you mentioned. You should know this one thing about how government works (or in this case, doesn't work) in Colorado. The legislature, or any county or municipality, in Colorado cannot raise taxes to do anything. That's why we don't have enough funds to adequately pay for transportation infrastructure and maintenance, education (K12 or higher ed) and many other needs. So, we certainly cannot pass a bill to tax plastic bags. Why? Because of TABOR. What is TABOR, you ask, check out this video of what TABOR is: http://www.coloradofiscal.org/whats-this-tabor-thing/ If you want to learn more about TABOR, the Colorado Fiscal Institute does great work on this policy issue.

— Susan Lontine, State Representative
1 year ago
Open voter registration for the Colorado caucuses

Hi – I really appreciate the fact that you care about Coloradan’s participation in the voting process. Unfortunately, Rick Palacio has no control over whether or not Unaffiliated voters can affiliate with a particular party after January 4. I wish I could change the law – actually I believe in same-day voter registration. However, the Colorado State Legislature passed in bill in 2013 which laid out the current voting procedures. I’d be glad to work on this issue next year, but it’s too late to do anything relating to unaffiliated (sometimes known as Independent) voters this year. If you are registered with a particular party (Dem, Republican, Green, Libertarian, etc.), February 1 was the last day to update your voter registration address to participate in the March 1st party precinct caucuses in your new precinct. If you haven’t updated your address, go to your old precinct. If you live in Boulder County, you can check the County Clerk’s website for detailed information about Caucus participation, including where to find your caucus location. However, if Unaffiliated voters want to vote in the state primary (which will allow them to choose candidates for every level of government (except the presidency), the deadlines are in the Secretary of State’s website. Note that if an Unaffiliated voter wants to vote in the primary, s/he can affiliate with the party of their choice on the day of that election. I wish I had a better answer. If there’s anything else you’d like to contact me about, please feel free. Rep Jonathan Singer, HD11 (303) 866-2780

— Jonathan Singer, State Representative
2 years ago
Restore School Funding

Dear Constituent concerned with Colorado Education Funding and Restoring the Negative Factor: Thanks for the email regarding HB1292-Student Success Act. I am trying to persuade my colleagues to put more than the proposed $100 million into the negative factor. However, there are data showing that trying to put $275 million into the fund for the next two years would zero out the State Education Fund and then require a future legislature to " take back" those funds. I requested more detailed data from LLS staffer Todd Herreid to better understand the long term impacts to the Colorado General Fund. I still have to study those data to better understand the opposition to putting more than the $100 million proposed in HB14-1292 back in. I know there are ongoing negotiations with the members of the House Education Committee and the education community to increase funds. I will keep working toward the goal of increasing the funds to fix the negative factor. Just for your info: it is much more effective to do individual emails to your representatives and especially to the members of the committee to which a bill is assigned, in this case the House Education Committee. Just Google Colorado General Assembly, then look under committees, and you will find emails for members. My individual email is below, under my signature. By the way the picture posted next to my name on this change.org site is not me. It may be Chris Jones the originator of the petition. It is more effective to email me directly with your concerns. That way we can continue to communicate, and I can tell you what's up. If you would like to get my monthly newsletter, please go to my website to sign up at www.dianeforcolorado.com I welcome your input. I never forget that I work for you. Yours for a just, equitable, sustainable, and prosperous Colorado for all, Diane Representative Diane Mitsch Bush, Colorado State House of Representatives, District 26-Eagle County and Routt County Repdianehd26@gmail.com

— Diane Mitsch Bush, State Representative
4 years ago