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Advocacy in action: Friends, colleagues push lawmakers to pass Aisha's Law

Aisha Fraser
Posted at 10:55 PM, Dec 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-02 23:18:14-05

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — After months of watching the legislation languish at the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee, supporters of Aisha’s Law remain steadfast and determined to get the legislation before the full House of Representatives by the end of the year. Named after Aisha Fraser, the Shaker Heights school teacher that was murdered by her abuser and ex-husband Lance Mason in November 2018, the legislation would grant domestic violence survivors greater access to protective orders as well as risk screenings in domestic violence cases.

Members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Women’s Caucus and friends of Aisha Faser hand wrote dozens of postcards to state lawmakers Monday night, imploring them to again consider the legislation and pass it out of committee. The legislation stalled earlier this year after prominent groups, including the Ohio Public Defender’s Office and ACLU opposed certain provisions of the legislation.

The legislation has undergone some revisions to help massage those concerns.

“We’re not going to be deterred,” said Meredith Turner, a lifelong friend of Aisha Fraser. “When I look at this room tonight and I see how people showed up for Aisha, I’m more encouraged.”

Aisha’s Law would also forbid domestic violence offenders who have previously been convicted from pleading down to lesser charges. Additionally, the legislation would make strangulation a felony.

Turner testified in support of the legislation before the House Criminal Justice Committee earlier this year. The legislation fell on the anniversary of the date that she and Fraser graduated high school together.

“I just never imagined that 28 years later that I would be given that kind of talk in front of the Ohio General Assembly for this purpose,” Turner said. “I lost my own grandmother to domestic violence at the hands of my grandfather. I’m a survivor myself [of domestic violence].”

More than three dozen people, including Fraser’s friends and fellow Shaker Heights teachers, flocked to The Dealership in Shaker Heights to participate in the so-called postcard party. Each postcard was written by hand and signed by its author. That kind of personal touch should make a difference, said John Morris, the president of the Shaker Heights Teachers Association.

“Aisha was a colleague, a friend, a member of our teacher’s association, just kind of one of those foundational people in an organization that makes it feel like a family,” Morris said. “Her name still rings throughout the hallways amongst teachers and peers. That loss, I don’t think we’ll ever fully heal from. This is what we can do to make sure that she’s not forgotten and that change is implemented so hopefully nothing like this happens again.”

RELATED: Lance Mason, former Cuyahoga County judge, pleads guilty to murder of ex-wife Aisha Fraser