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Honk If You Hate Jesus of the Week
Let me second Sandra Metz's March 18 letter as to your offensive Jesus of the Week feature. Would you do the same for the leader of any other religion? I have defended your paper due to its sometimes excellent articles, despite many sexist and/or near pornographic ads. I'd like to think you would not do some of them for the almighty dollar.

I, too, will have to read Westword less or not at all...and cease to recommend worthwhile articles to others--unless this type of material is discontinued. Just be fair.

Ron Vander Kooi
via the Internet

I, too, am curious why you would run a weekly cartoon that mocks the center of a religion that many of your readers practice. Would you run a gay-bashing cartoon? I dare you. No, I'm not homophobic. I'm just pointing out how hypocritical your actions are. Running this cartoon reflects poor taste, poor judgment and insensitivity on the part of your editor and staff.

Steven Dzilvelis
via the Internet

Comic Relief
Ditch Jesus of the Week and bring back Ernie Pook!
Gail Simon
Denver

I am very disappointed that you have discontinued certain comics, especially The City, Life in Hell and Ernie Pook, or whatever that one was called. The other comics were the second thing I read after Kenny Be. I pick up the paper for the art and entertainment listings and I read a lot of the features, but the departure of the comics has left a hole. I think you should expand the comics rather than get rid of them.

Daniel Costello
via the Internet

The Devil's in the Details
I have just finished the last part of Steve Jackson's "Dealing with the Devil" series in the March 18 issue, and the whole thing makes me sick. Not just what those horrible boys did, either.

The point of my letter: Where were the parents?
The pain that Brandy's mother is going through must be tremendous, but I can't help but wonder why her fourteen-year-old daughter was sitting at a bus stop at that time of night.

The mother of one of these boys is sitting outside the courtroom. After she has heard for the third time the horror that her son was involved in--and obviously seemed to have thought was okay to be involved in--what she talks about is what gang members' parents and families have to do to "support" their children's behavior. Talk about being completely self-centered! No wonder her son and nephew know no compassion or humanity.

The parents are not entirely to blame, no--but you must look at these children's surroundings. They are ignorant of morality, common sense and compassion, because they have never been exposed to any of those things. Those boys deserve everything they get and worse. I have no pity for them, others like them or their families.

I'm disgusted with incompetent parents.
Denise Garrett
Aurora

The reason I'm writing is that I feel like more young girls should read these articles and be aware of the consequences that come about when getting into a car with strangers or, for that matter, going to parties where gangbangers reside.

This story was so long and shocking that it's almost a book. I feel for Brandy's family, and my prayers go out to them, but what a lot of people do not think about is the fact that there are a lot of young girls just like Brandy who hang out on the Federal Boulevard strip and don't know what they are about to get themselves into, just because they want to have fun or get attention. That doesn't mean that they deserve to die or go through a night of hell. I know this because my girlfriends and I used to hang out and "cruise" this strip on weekends. We used to get ourselves into some predicaments, and now I thank God that nothing bad ever happened to us. Now that I've read about the torment and hell that poor little girl went through that night, I can't even drive down the street without looking at certain people with disgust.

This world has become such a sick place.
A.E. Torrez
via the Internet

When I came from California, the first thing I read was Westword's "Dealing with the Devil" series. I think you are doing a great job informing the people about just how sick these so-called gangsters are that are out there on the streets. I hope that "Dealing with the Devil" will be an eye-opener to those parents who let their kids run free all hours of the night. I strongly feel that this could have been prevented if these parents would have had more control over their kids. I think that Brandy's mom is in denial; her daughter wasn't the innocent little girl she thought she was. I think that this is very sad, and no one should go through what she did, but come on. Brandy "Logic" wasn't wearing a red jersey because she wanted to be like a seven-foot black man. Where did a fourteen-year-old and her friend get money to buy cocaine and beer?

In the final part, Theresa blames rap music for her son being a violent child molester, but she can't blame anyone but herself. A good mother doesn't let her son sell drugs out of their home. Theresa said she was glad her son didn't kill Brandy. Wake up, lady! Your son raped and sodomized her! That's even worse than killing her. At least Frank's mom could say her son didn't rape her.

As for their sick Uncle Joe, he should get the death penalty, too; he's just as sick as his nephew. To those stupid wanna-be gangster hos, I wish you would try to pick me up. I would kick all your sorry asses. Try going to my 'hood in Cali--I guarantee you won't make it. To Alejandro's sick family member who said Venus deserved to die, I would love to give you a good ass-beating.

These sick bastards aren't Mexicans; they're a disgrace to the Mexican race. I hope they all get what they deserve, especially Bang and Pancho.

My heart goes out to Venus and Brandy's families. May Brandy and Venus rest in peace. God bless.

Janessa Torres Vigil
Littleton

It was very upsetting to know what happened to that girl, and my heart goes out to all the families involved. But mostly, I feel for Brandy, and I want to say to her that we're all thinking about her and her family and to let her know she won't be forgotten. I also hope in reading this that teen girls will think before getting into a car with guys they don't know. Let us all learn from this.

Tonette Alvarado
via the Internet

I have been following these articles very closely. My first comment goes out to all you sad fools and the women who stand by them. First, I know most of you will spend the rest of your miserable little lives in the pen. But to me, it doesn't seem appropriate that you get to even breathe the same air we breathe. You have taken the life of an innocent child; not only that, but you tormented her in the worst ways possible. You all obviously were not that down that you couldn't get a real woman on your own, so you had to take from children! You are no better than the Chester sitting in the next cell. And for the women who stand by them, how could you possibly so much as say their names without getting sick to your stomachs? What if it were your daughter? How could you possibly justify their actions? What don't you see? They took pleasure in all this! I hung around Bloods when I was younger, and never once did they ever disrespect like you have. Not even close. They didn't need to take from no one!

For all you interested readers: Don't worry--their time won't be all that easy. They will get what's coming to them eventually.

And one last comment dedicated to the family of Brandy DuVall, who I know never got a chance to really speak their mind: May God bless you all for having to endure a nightmare such as this.

C. Dominguez
Denver

I am writing on behalf of all the girls out there who may have ended up the way that Brandy did. I am now a senior in high school, and I remember two years ago when I started to hang out with gang members in order to feel "a part of the crowd." I live in a predominantly white neighborhood (I'm black), and I was teased by other black kids that I wasn't black enough to fit in. So a girl in my complex started to befriend me, and I found out that she was a member of the Eastside CMG Bloods in the 104 set. Thinking that this was a great way to prove I was "black" enough, I stared to hang with her crowd. By doing so, I was exposed to a lot of things no teenager should be. I started to drink, smoke weed and try to become "friends" with the gang, until I found out the hard way that it wasn't as good as it looked. In the past two years that I hung out with the gangs, someone I knew was killed as a result of gang violence. He was shot over twenty times by rival gang members in the Dahlia Square parking lot in Park Hill over a year ago. This incident was enough for me to see that being with these people was not the lifestyle for me.

Gangs are sickening and only lead you to death or jail time. My mom didn't raise a fool, but a girl who had her own opinions about life and people. Not only that, but I have seen what gangs do to people, and I've made a conscious decision not to go the way these people do. And like the girl that Antonio talked to in that class, I used to be her until I woke up before it was too late.

Desiree Ross
via the Internet

Kudos to Steve Jackson for his series on the Brandy DuVall horror. The case reveals the madness and tragedy of the gang life. Stories like the one we have read over the last month in Westword leave us bewildered, wondering how young people can end up with so much disregard for human life. We have to ask ourselves what is missing from their lives that they look for in gangs. Then we have to ask ourselves why it is that people like Lonnie Lynn and organizations like Amer-I-Can, that work directly with young people to give them an alternative to the gang life, cannot find enough funding or support to function. Then we have to ask ourselves why we are willing to fork over millions for new prison construction while Colorado ranks 49th in the country in terms of school funding. We have to ask ourselves a lot of questions, but maybe we ought to start with these. We would do well to remember what old Ben Franklin said so long ago: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Just a little food for thought.

Brendan Shea
via the Internet

An absolutely amazing depiction of gang life and the horror that families must endure, whether it be a mother of a gang member or the mother of an innocent victim like Brandy. Both touching and horrifying, this story was incredible. Many thanks go out to the DuVall family, as well as the family of Theresa Swinton, for sharing this story in the hopes of reaching out to those who are faced with tough decisions in this world. My only words to Theresa Swinton: You are an incredibly strong woman, one to be admired. Thank you, Westword, for publishing such an astonishing story.

Trivinia Johnson
via the Internet

Your series should be printed in booklet form for distribution to law enforcement, school counselors, sociology professors and anyone else concerned about problems in our society. Also to those who believe there is no crime bad enough to warrant the death penalty. Rarely is a murder reported to the extent that besides knowing it was a horrible crime, you know just how horrible.

You have to wonder: Except for the killing, how common is the level of brutality depicted here? I am afraid it is more common, by far, than what is reported and prosecuted.

This series is a marvelous case history.
Frederick C. Sage
Boulder

Let me begin by commending Steve Jackson for his exemplary articles. I don't think one of my emotions has been left untouched. I have been alternately riveted by his masterful journalistic talents and repulsed by his subjects and their heinous crimes. I have only the most unkind thoughts about most of the creatures in this story and will not waste my time expounding. I just cannot get over what seems to be a central theme in all of these characters' lives. There is absolutely no sense of responsibility for anything they have ever done or continue to do.

The only time I have laughed while reading Westword the past four weeks was when I read the letter from the "dead man" in jail, Sal Martinez, blaming Mr. Jackson for his impending death. Excuse me?

Name withheld on request

I am writing in response to the articles about my family and what has transpired in the Brandy DuVall/Venus Montoya cases. I must say that even for me, hearing some of the "truths" being told is a total shock. I wonder how I could be so oblivious to the things going on around me. I guess by my reaction, it is not hard for one to say that they don't have a clue, for instance, about what their children are into, or what "our" parents are into, for that matter. I am very proud of my mother and my brother Antonio for trying to help others from having to go through the hell that we have been forced to face in our family. I also share my family's feelings of grief for both of these girls and their families. I have two daughters, and I couldn't imagine anything happening to them even remotely resembling what happened to Brandy and Venus.

If any person can get something from these articles, then more power to everyone who helped develop them. Though I was not really fond of what I felt were Steve Jackson's original intentions, I can honestly say I appreciate what you have done for everyone involved. Thank you.

Raquel Brooks (sister of Danny and Antonio)
via the Internet

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor, Westword
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail editorial@westword.com.

Missed a story? The editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html.

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