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Events in Syracuse, Dec 30th and your help.

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Wed Dec 04 2002 - 11:48:54 EST

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Good People & People of Faith,

I wanted to give everyone a personal update on my recent Federal jail
sentence and what may be happening in the future. You can get full
details at http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr

On November 21st I was given a 10 day sentence for our NonViolent
efforts in the Syracuse Federal Building. Trying to arrange a meeting
between parents and Senator Hillary R. Clinton regarding the need for
serious family law reform.  There could have been a maximum 30 day
sentence and I pleaded with the Judge for mercy and explained that I
had plane tickets to pickup my son, Domenic, for Christmas vacation on
the 18th of December -- I was very thankful he assigned quite a bit

The time in jail went fairly quickly. I was released last Friday, but
it certainly gave me some time to think about what has happened and
what may happen in the future.  They were some pretty sobering
thoughts!  The personal consequences to me can become devastating very

Federal Magistrate Judge DiBianco, while he did apply a "minimal"
sentence appeared angry at times about these events and their
motivation.  Especially when he understood that I planned on returning
to the building on Dec 30th to continue the effort -- while there are
still 3 sets of charges still pending.  The Asst. US Attorney,
Mr. Richard Southwick, wanted the Judge to issue an order prohibiting
me from the Federal Building (but the Judge would not sign it as
offered stating it was too broad).  Obviously, if some type of "stay
away" order is issued before I return on the 30th -- there could be a
contempt charge and the strong possibility of an immediate jail
sentence.  My assigned attorney, Ms. Lisa Peebles, plans of fighting
the issuance of any such order.

The Judge warned me that I could expect more severe sentences if my
conduct continues.  I could sense his frustration with me, that I
wasn't following some type of protest "rules."  He mentioned that he
had been the presiding Judge when some anti-war protesters had been
arrested at a nearby Air Force Base for trespassing.  He said they had
"proved their point" and then stopped their activity (I assume he had
gone easy on them). He also said that I had a right to keep asking for
a change in the laws, but what I was doing was "demanding a change." 
(I think he was referring to the goal of the effort, to get a personal
meeting with Senator Clinton).

Violating Court Orders / Waiting for Appeal / The Problem
The Appeal has been noticed on the original conviction and the process
has started (but will take months to complete). Obviously, I don't
look forward to also violating a direct order from the Court when I
return on the 30th.  As many of you have already pointed out -- the
consequences are a lot worse.

If I waited for the appeals, etc...  Would my conduct change?  No.
Waiting might make things easier, maybe.  But all these issues
sometimes obscure the real "fact of the matter."  The real problems
here -- which are political, not legal, and have nothing to do with
establishing the right to peacefully walk in a Federal Building
carrying a picture of children, or that the building rules are not
being enforced fairly, etc....

Senator Clinton's staff does not see parents looking for serious
reform as even a small blip on the political radar.  That one parent
has been actually tried and jailed for peaceful efforts outside one of
her offices is not a blip either (can be dismissed as the efforts of a
lone crackpot).

I think even the most skeptical of us is willing to admit that if a
couple of more mothers and fathers were involved in this -- everything
would change.  It would get much more publicity and focus a lot more
attention on the Senator -- we would get that meeting.

The problem in not with the Judge, or the Senator, but with us.  What
is our real depth of commitment to reform? 

What are we really doing?
Many of the people on this list are involved in reform efforts. It is
probably fair to say that the entirety of the effort is
talking/writing (using words to communicate).  Do you really think
that is enough?  Certainly, past Civil Rights movements have required
more, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/civil_back.htm -- they have required
"physical doing."

Like we have said many times in the past, the writing, visiting, court
challenges, and talking, are all essential steps.  But what about the
"physical doing" that will influence others in and of itself?

For many of us this is the season of Advent, Christmas is just a
few weeks away. Jesus Christ said a lot of great things, but why
do we remember him now -- because of his "doing."  He was willing to
mount the cross.

Please understand I don't think we need to do anything near that
dramatic to bring our point home. In many ways we have an easy issue
-- we are not trying to make people realize they are brothers and
sisters.  We have a much more limited goal -- "we are loving parents
who want our right recognized to nurture our own children and be
involved equally with our children."

Somehow -- you don't hear that message a lot?  Most of the "talking"
is spent on how bad this or that is.  Are we drowning in our own anger
so much that it stops us from taking positive action.

What is the Point?
Time and time again, both at the web site and in our list messages we
have talked about NonViolent Action.  We have held up the ideal that
people willing to demonstrate: Faith, Love, and Personal Sacrifice
can be the means of effective social change. More specifically,
that Parents willing to demonstrate:

1) Faith in a loving God,
2) Love for their children, former spouses, and other "brothers and sisters", and
3) willingness to make Personal Sacrifice,

can accomplish meaningful family law reform.  Do you really believe
that?  I have to be honest and say I'm beginning to wonder myself!

PLEASE, don't choke on #2 (have love for your former spouse).  This is
not to say that everything they have done is okay, or that they have
not done some very damaging things to you and your children -- but
that as a fellow human being you still wish the best for them).

What are the "necessary and sufficient" methods/tools for reform?

Are the previous three enough -- or do we need to add:
4) A letter writing campaign of thousands.
5) A million parent march on Washington.
6) Contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
7) Positive Publicity in the media.

Is trying to do the first three, and not having the last four (or at
least ONE of them) a bit foolish?  What does it take to "get the ball
rolling."  And I think we all have to admit that right now, the ball
is "not rolling" at all.

My/Our Effort
While many of you may be surprised by the approaching "consequences"
for my conduct.  It is really something I thought might happen when
this effort was started years ago.  I made a personal commitment to
see it through.

I continue to try, not out of "obstinancy", but out of "Faith."  I
know that all it takes is a few of you to get really involved and it's
a whole new ball game.  If spending months in Jail will make that
happen and get the "ball rolling" -- it will be well worth the effort
for all of us.  I know many of you through email, and a good number
personally.  There are a lot of good people out there.

Your Help?
Write a letter - It is so difficult to predict what may happen here --
but clearly a response from Senator Clinton is crucial to getting
resolution. I will be making another effort to write her office,
explain what has happened (and include copies of the three local
newspaper stories), and ask again for her to meet with parents ....  I
would also like to include letters from you.  This is one of the most
serious issues effecting our nation and it is time it gets the
attention it deserves.

In the past we had asked people to contact the Senator's office
directly, but this time we will try forwarding them as one package.
It will also allow us to post copies of the letters at the web site.

Send your letter to Senator Clinton (please no more than 2 pages and
mail no later than Dec 9th. Include your full mailing address on the
letter.) to:

John Murtari
Software Workshop Inc.
55 East Genesee St.
Baldwinsville, NY  13027
FAX: 315-635-3243

Come take a walk/watch - You are invited to come to the Syracuse
Federal Building on December 30th at 1 PM.  It would be a welcome
addition to our effort.

John Murtari

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