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Federal Trail (Oct 29) - Why we do what we do.

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Fri Oct 25 2002 - 15:39:12 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

I wanted to take a moment to update you on what has been happening in
Syracuse and our efforts for serious reform.  It's been a very busy
month both for the "cause" and for my home and work.

Federal Trial Next Week
In the past several years I have been arrested about 30 times in our
efforts to reform the system through NonViolent Action.  Up until the
last few months, every one of those charges was dismissed and my
"record" remained clean.  That has changed (and I guess I'm surprised
my run of success lasted as long as it did!).  I'm fortunate the
charges are relatively minor (equivalent to a traffic violation), and
even a conviction won't result in a "criminal" record.  But the Judge
can impose a $50 fine and/or 30 days in jail (which don't seem real

Sometimes we "loose the forest for the trees." As I approach trial
some well intentioned people have told me I should stall for time, or
make a "plea bargain."  Remember (and sometimes I have to remind
myself), the goal of this was never to establish the "right to walk
outside the office of your Member of Congress with a picture of your
child inside a US Federal Building."  I agree, it represents some
interesting legal issues (and you can read the motion submitted by my
attorney at the site,
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr/federal_trial.htm), but our
point is to demonstrate our love for our children and our willingness
to make personal sacrifice in the name of reform.

Life Goes On
After the Newspaper stories ran, several local people called me on the
phone to relate their experiences.  Joy called for her husband Jerry
who has already done 6 months in jail for falling behind in child
support. He is being pulled into Court again in about 15 days and the
Judge already told him to be ready for Jail unless he can start making
the payments.  They don't have the money to raise their own two kids
right now.... and of course, Jerry doesn't have the money and doesn't
get to see the kids at all -- but that is not the issue.

Catherine called to tell me how she is losing contact with her two
daughters after a divorce.  Her former spouse has been successful in
"getting the kids" and was also allowed to move about 60 miles away.
Catherine had a female Judge tell her, "I don't want to inconvenience
Mr. X, by having him drive the kids to see you on your weekends
... you need to pick them up..."  Oh, and she is getting support
pulled out of her paycheck and can just afford to live in a studio
apartment (that is all she can afford), she and the kids sleep on the
floor during her "visitation time."  Her former spouse doesn't approve
of that!

The saddest story was Susan, had two kids taken by Social Services
when an "allegation" was made of abuse because her two year old son,
while sick, had lost some weight. The charges were dismissed (she has
never been found guilty of anything), but she could never accomplish
enough "programs" to convince social services to get her children
back.  The saddest part, she just gave birth and social services was
there to take the child at the hospital -- just in case!  They even
convinced her to give up her parental rights voluntarily to her
children. How?  They told her that if you don't voluntarily give them
away we'll make sure you never have contact with them (because we all
know your rights are going to be terminated by the Court).  So at
least we'll let you write them and get pictures!

Boy....I felt so bad for each of these people. All from my little
rural Wayne county in New York.  They asked if I could mail them
something.  I told them all to sign up for our mailing list, or check
the web site.  None of them could afford a computer at home.  I asked
them to write their story briefly for Senator Clinton, mail it to me,
and I would personally deliver it at the Syracuse office. We'll see
what happens.

Susan's story really hit home, it kept me in perspective.  I just
found out (like many of you), that my former spouse was going to
unilaterally reduce me Christmas Vacation time with Domenic from about
11 days to 7.  Not much I can really do right now. But I am ever so
thankful that Dom and I have a strong relationship.  Susan will never
get that chance...  She told me how here little two year old boy
would cry and always want to come after her when her "visits" were
over.... how was he to understand when even we can't?

Why I/We do what I/We do?
If I am found guilty at the Trial, I don't plan on paying any fine or
accepting any type of "probation."  To do that would represent some
type of cooperation in my own punishment and make things "easier."
Just simple jail will be fine for me.  On November 4th I plan on going
back to the building again -- and I will keep going back to walk
outside Senator Clinton's office while I am free.  The arrests could
escalate and the charges become much more serious. Why do this?

Because what is happening to parents and children is wrong.  It is
very, very wrong and needs to stop.  We need to make the ability to
parent our own children a clearly recognized and protected right.

I/We don't plan on using name calling to achieve this, or taking aim
with a rifle, or strapping explosives to myself and killing people for
attention. Though many of these techniques seem to be in vogue these

I/We hope to have enough Faith in a loving God and in our brothers and
sisters that our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of our children
will be enough to change how people think.  I really, really, believe
that.  People like Susan and Jerry will have a chance soon to sit down
with Senator Clinton and bring Family Reform to the National

Strength in Numbers
I know many of you and I have appreciated your kind words of support
in the past (and hope they will continue).  I also greatly appreciate
those of you have drive out here to participate with me in some of
these actions!  But for all of us, we need more people to get
involved.  Make the trip to the Courthouse on Tuesday.  Think about
visiting the office of Senator Clinton on November 4th -- it would
make things a lot easier for all of us. Don't come because your angry
at whoever, but because you love your kids.

You know, in the past I have always admitted that I'm not sure how I
would respond to an email like this (actually, I'm pretty sure I would
not have responded).  Drive across the country to visit a guy who is
about to be hammered by the system (I've got troubles enough of my
own).  But I have gotten to know many of you and I guess if I knew you
were going to "make a stand" for reform and for all our kids, I'd try
to be there with you (now I don't know if I would drive to California,
but maybe at least to Washington or the Midwest.)

Please, I don't mean to harangue you or make you feel guilty. I knew
what I was getting into when all this started and I hope to have the
Faith to see it all through.  But I have to ask for your help. I don't
have any doubt it will help and make things a lot easier. 
I am not a rock or an island.

John Murtari

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