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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 25, 201710min1997

The gloves are off and the fur is flying in the Republican primary for Colorado's next state treasurer. In a series of emails sent to state GOP activists and donors Thursday, state Rep. Polly Lawrence accused her fellow state treasurer candidate state Rep. Justin Everett and his allies — "his minions" was the phrase she used — of spreading lies and mounting "traitorous attacks" on her, while an independent expenditure committee backing Everett blasted Lawrence for "lying to get re-elected, only to conspire with liberals and vote like Democrats."


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 23, 20175min403

Since Colorado lawmakers passed legislation to address bullying in schools in 2011, programs to combat it have grown from 37 percent of the state’s 178 school districts to more than 80 percent, and gay-straight alliances are now in 196 schools and available to 167,964 students.

The presence of gay-straight alliances cut bullying numbers in half, according to the report released Wednesday by One Colorado, the state’s largest and politically engaged organization for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents and their families.

The report, “Safe Schools for LGBTQ Students: A Look Back at Colorado’s Anti-Bullying Efforts,” is available online.

The report states:

Colorado has come a long way in the past 6 years to make a positive impact in our schools for many students, but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure all students, including LGBTQ students, feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change. There is a high demand for educator trainings, resources for educators who want to include LGBTQ topics in the classroom, and best practices for engaging young people in activities for LGBTQ and allied students.

One Colorado looked at bullying statistics over the six years since the legislature passed House Bill 1254.

The bill had broad bipartisan supporting, passing the House 47-18 and the Senate 33-2.

One Colorado released a statement with the report Wednesday morning:

We know bullying is still prevalent in our schools, both in urban and rural areas, and LGBTQ young people are still among the most vulnerable to harassment and violence. One of the first ways school districts can tackle this issue is to make sure their policies explicitly enumerate protections for students based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. One Colorado’s report shows that in addition to comprehensive anti-bullying policies, allowing students access to Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), supportive educators, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can create a more supportive environment for young people.

By issuing reports like this, One Colorado hopes schools will make it a priority to ensure all students are successful, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope students and parents in places without updated policies will work with their school districts to make sure their anti-bullying efforts are LGBTQ-inclusive. The report also serves as a resource to help school districts identify the greatest needs of LGBTQ young people, and focus the necessary resources required to address them, in ways that are most effective.

One Colorado is dedicated to a future where every young person in our state has a school environment where they feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change. It is important we continue to work with school districts, administrators, educators, and students to build a climate across our state where LGBTQ students can be out and respected in their schools.

In the session that ended in May legislators added harassment against LGBTQ people and the disabled to the state’s hate crime law.

House Bill 1188 also had bipartisan support, passing the Senate, 23-12, and the House, 48-15.

One Colorado pushes every year, but it hasn’t been able to pass a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors. While proponents of a ban say it is discredited and dangerous for young people struggling with their sexual identity, Republicans say the bill gets between parents and what they think is best for their child.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 10, 20174min315

State and Colorado Springs officials are declaring zero tolerance for hate crimes following anti-Semitic and racist activity in the city.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, along with Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey issued a joint statement Thursday decrying the hateful graffiti on a synagogue and property in its surrounding neighborhood last week.

“The City of Colorado Springs and State of Colorado are proud of the diversity of our residents,” they wrote. “Colorado law expressly provides for the right of every person, regardless of their religion, race, color, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation to be protected from intimidation, harassment and physical harm. We are committed to the full enforcement of these laws.”

Friday morning, residents in the Bon neighborhood discovered a swastika and the words “sig (sic) heil” — for “sieg heil,” a Nazi salute — scrawled on one side of the sign outside Temple Beit Torah.

The “n” word was spelled out in large letters across the side of Luanne Ducett’s gold-colored sedan, parked near North Royer and Fontanero streets. It was one of at least seven vehicles in the area spray-painted with swastikas and other symbols.

The incident comes following a rise in hate crimes in Colorado and nationally. Colorado experienced a more than 12 percent increase in hate crimes in 2015 compared to 2014. There were 107 reported incidents in 2015, compared to 95 in 2014, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Anti-Defamation League.

The issue came up in the legislature this year, as lawmakers heard a measure seeking to track bias-motivated incidents. The bill – which was heavily watered down after being amended – became law this year.

The legislative effort came as reports proliferate of an increase in hate crimes across the nation, led by a rise in anti-Semitic incidents and attacks on immigrants and Muslims.

Vandalism has been reported at Jewish cemeteries across the country. And a high-profile case in Kansas caught the nation’s attention after a man allegedly opened fire on two Indians just after shouting, “Get out of my country.”

Some of the conversation revolves around whether the apparent spike in bias-motivated incidents is connected to President Trump’s rise to power.

In Denver in November 2016, a transgender woman found her vehicle spray-painted with hate messages and swastikas. Tagged on the hood of the car was “Trump.”

The assault in Colorado Springs spurred hundreds of people to rally Sunday in support of all of the city’s diverse residents.

“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in Colorado Springs or elsewhere in our beautiful state,” the joint statement from Hickenlooper, Suthers and Carey said. “We are all committed to using the full power of our offices, and the laws of our city and state, to stand up to hateful activities and crimes.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 23, 20174min409

… urinating in public and other such “quality of life” offenses. Which is to say they diminish quality of life — but not enough, in the eyes of Denver’s City Council, to warrant sending someone packing to his native land over a violation.

Denverite’s Erica Meltzer reports the changes represent a sweeping sentencing reform of the city’s criminal code by Denver’s political leadership. One reason for the move, backed by the City Council and Mayor Michael Hancock, was to lower trip wires sending homeless people to jail. Another aim (more attuned to the news cycle) is to make it harder for federal authorities to roust foreign-born residents, here legally, amid the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Meltzer explains that lighter sentences translate to a lower risk of deportation:

The maximum sentence for a crime is a factor in deportation proceedings. Legal non-citizen residents convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude” with a maximum sentence of 365 days or more can be deported, even if they are sentenced to much less than the maximum. Having one of these offenses on their record can also affect the ability of visa holders to obtain residency.

Reducing the maximum sentence to 364 days instead of 365 gives immigrants a defense against deportation: that the crime was a mere petty offense.

Is Denver again veering into “sanctuary city” territory? Not necessarily. As Meltzer also explains:

This change probably won’t do much to protect unauthorized immigrants who get caught by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their presence in the country makes them potentially deportable, regardless of any criminal activity.

It could help legal immigrants — green card holders and visa holders — avoid deportation for relatively minor offenses and could preserve their opportunity to apply for residency later.

At the same time, the reform includes a crackdown on on hate crimes. In unanimously adopting the revised sentences on Monday, the council reserved a category for more serious offenses, including municipal-level hate crimes (distinct from state law on the subject).

Meltzer quotes Scott Levin of the Anti-Defamation League, who addressed the council:

“Bias-motivated crimes are message crimes. … It’s not just targeting a victim. It’s targeting an entire community and telling them that people who look like them, who act like them, are not welcome.”

There’s a lot more to this story; you’ll get it all by reading Meltzer’s full report in Denverite.

 


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinMarch 13, 20176min320

In Case You Missed It: Read our weekly political news recap on the lesser known topics you may have missed last week in Colorado political journalism. Last week: It's always interesting — sometimes pretty fun, too — when someone takes is upon themselves to act as a citizen watchdog. One of the more well-known such people in Colorado politics is back in news ...


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusMarch 7, 20176min285
There has been an increase in hate crimes in Colorado, according to data presented Tuesday as state lawmakers heard a measure seeking to track bias-motivated incidents. Colorado experienced a more than 12 percent increase in hate crimes in 2015 compared to 2014. There were 107 reported incidents in 2015, compared to 95 in 2014, according […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 6, 20176min765
Wait, that’s not already the law? It’s an apt response to a bill that would help ensure the state’s report on hate crimes is as accurate as it can be. Rep. Joe Salazar, the statehouse’s road warrior on civil rights, is sponsoring House Bill 1138, to require the state Department of Public Safety to scrutinize reports from […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 6, 20174min235
Here are the legislative highlights of the week ahead in the Colorado Capitol. Committee schedules are subject to change. The daily schedule is available on the legislature’s website. Monday House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources, 1:30 p.m., Room 107 House Bill 1197 to exclude marijuana from the definition of farm products House Finance, 1:30 p.m., Legislative Services Building […]

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Mario NicolaisMario NicolaisJanuary 11, 20176min387

Shocking video showing four black youths torturing a disabled, white captive spread across the internet and media outlets recently. Almost immediately, some politicians and members of the media began calling for hate crime charges. No policy conflicts me as much as hate crimes. The rationales for adopting hate crime legislation are powerful and moving. Yet, I’ve always struggled with the concept of the motivation for an action being a crime itself in addition to the actual, underlying criminal act. For example, there is no question heinous crimes occurred in Chicago. Holding a person bound and gagged for days, making threats of abuse, and using a knife to cut into the boy’s scalp all constitute serious felonies. The list of charges should be long with corresponding prison sentences.