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[AKidsRight.Org] Meeting Senator Clinton - NonViolent Action continues Aug. 17th

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Sat Aug 14 2004 - 18:46:30 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

Tuesday, Aug 17th, is another big day as 'our' efforts continue.
You'd think that after 50 arrests it would start to get easy?  It does
not.  I'd like to talk a little bit about what is going on (for folks
new to the group), and also about what you can do to help (and that is
welcome!).  At the end a little perspective on my actions.  Someone
shared with us a conversation they had with Senator Clinton's local
aid, "How well do you know John Murtari ... he's not an effective

Sometimes people look at this as a 'one man show' -- and they couldn't
be farther from the truth.  Many of you have been involved, from
writing encouraging words, phone calls, letters to the Senator, and
even coming by the Federal Building to watch and offer support.  It's
been great and it gives me 'protection' as I continue. I'm committed
to seeing this through.

Can NonViolent Action really work?  Many folks don't get involved at
all because they don't think so.  I can't blame them, but we will try
to find out.  Remember NonViolent 'Action', not NonViolent 'talking'
-- there is a big difference.

The Facts
Around 2pm, Tuesday, I'll be at the Syracuse Federal Building and
heading up to the 14th floor (Senator Clinton's offices). I'll be
dressed in a white shirt and tie (which belonged to my dad), and start
to quietly walk in the hallway carrying our "petition" to the Senator.
It has photographs of separated parents & children:

The Federal Police and the US Attorney's office know I'm coming --
they check the website. We have settled into a routine and I try to
make it convenient. They have real criminals to worry about ... The
police will ask me to leave and tell me I'm violating a Federal
Judge's order.  I'll say politely that I plan on staying and then
(most likely) they will put the cuffs on and take me into custody.

Within about an hour, around 3pm, I should be arraigned by a Federal
Judge and this is where things get a little iffy?

Do I go home that night?  My mom is 88 years old and I live with her.
It's tough in the morning when I leave. I give here a kiss but can't
really tell her when (and if) I will see her again.  I might be home
that night, in a week, a month, or longer -- my worry for her troubles
me the most.  You know, if a parent dies while your in jail you get a
quick 'death bed' visit and then a quick funeral visit (of course you
are in hand-cuffs and escorted by deputies).  But there is an old
Italian saying, 'Il Dio sa' -- God knows.  No point in worrying.

How much jail time is coming?  I've already got 4 pending charges from
this Spring and we have all agreed to stipulate to the facts so a
string of Trials won't be necessary.  I try to make it convenient for
them.  On their part they gave me a much greater gift.  They could
have sped along earlier this year and sentenced me to jail during the
summer. It would have cost me my six week summer vacation with
Domenic.  While not explicitly saying anything both the Judge and US
Attorney let Dom and I have a peaceful summer.  Six weeks with your
own child -- how do you put a value on that?  I am grateful.

To Help
Folks, if you have time.  Please send a fax or make a phone call to
the Senator's offices both in Washington and Syracuse.  They are
paying attention to what is going on here. The Senator is a member
of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families.

You don't have to be a resident of New York to call her offices.

Syracuse Local rep, Cathy Calhoun,
tel: 315-448-0470, fax: 315-448-0476

Washington Scheduling Office, Lona Valmoro (Senior Advisor to the Senator),
tel: 202-224-4451, fax: 202-228-0121 

Most of all, you don't have to express anger. Just let her staff know
that you care about Civil Rights protection for families and the
Senator should meet with parent's groups regarding the need for
National reform...  Let them know being a parent is one of our
GREATEST rights. It needs official recognition and protection.

If you write, please email us a copy of your letter so we can share it
with others. If you call, please let us know how it went.  If you take
the time to send a fax, try to send copies to the Judge and US
Attorney.  Let them know you also care.

Honorable Gustav J. DiBianco 
US Magistrate Judge 
RE: United States v. Murtari 
P.O. Box 7396 
Syracuse, NY 13261-7396 

US Attorney Glenn T. Suddaby 
Hanley Federal Building, Room 900
100 S. Clinton Street
Syracuse, NY  13261

If you actually plan on coming by the Federal Building on Tuesday
afternoon, please give me a call on Monday - 877-635-1968,x-211
It would be great to see you and talk.

"I am not a Criminal"
Below is an excerpt from a letter I wrote the Judge earlier in the
year. It puts some thoughts together about NonViolent Action:

Judge DiBianco:

... The tension of the recent weeks has caused me to do some soul
searching. I hope all of us can try to find another path to
resolution. I am not a criminal, but I find myself in the criminal
justice system?

You know criminals. People who commit acts whose goal is to selfishly
benefit themselves or to harm others. The punishments of our criminal
system are meant to remind these people of the consequences of their
actions and to bring change of heart. They want to avoid punishment
and the system "works." I am not a criminal.

As someone involved in NonViolent Action (and in a very small way
trying to follow the example set by Gandhi and Martin Luther King), I
am demonstrating my willingness to sacrifice to convert the attitudes
of the good people who surround me. I know you find it hard to
understand this struggle for the rights of parents to nurture their
own children (I did before it happened to me). Fifty years ago GOOD
people found it hard to understand why black people wanted to sit in
the front of the bus. Why did they want to drink out of the same water
fountain as a white person? It had gone on for so many years. I wish
we could find ourselves in a Southern Courtroom in Mississippi.  

... you must have at times imagined yourselves back then. Called upon
to prosecute and to judge a black man who violates a local ordinance
(for the fifth time!) and continues to try and sit in the front of the
bus (without anger or malice towards anyone). What type of response is
required and who is "responsible?" ...  The risk of jail would hurt,
but the black man and his family would have also faced a visit from
the Klan; the potential destruction of their home around them. One has
to admire the faith they had to persevere!

The man is not a criminal. He accepts the risk of punishment as part
of a willingness to sacrifice and help those around him better see the
indignity he is subject to. If we seek to "blame" him I believe we
must also find he is not responsible alone for those actions. Indeed,
all the members of the community also share in this responsibility by
being asleep to the great injustice that was being done. In some sense
they all share the burden of the pain he will be forced to endure?
Without going into theology, this example helped me to understand part
of the Passion of Jesus of Nazareth -- forced to the cross because of
our collective inability to love others as we should. He bore the
punishment for our indifference.  

Judge, please understand I have no illusions of grandeur! I am content
if no one ever notices my activity. We remember King and Gandhi, but
there were thousands of others who died in those causes and history
has forgotten their names. That is fine with me, because like those
many others, I do know my Son, Domenic, will remember what his father
did because of his love for him.  

You show great concern over the time Federal Police require to respond
to my actions. I'm sure I'm the least of their worries... People in
pain will do hopeless acts. I know by the letters I get in jail and
email that this effort has touched people hearts and hopefully changed
their actions. A mother called me after my last jail sentence and told
me her son had committed suicide from despair after a family Court
proceeding. That he felt helpless to see the children he loved. If
there is even ONE less police call out there -- I'm sure it would
justify hundreds of these minor arrests.

I hope you can perceive a difference between my effort to petition
Senator Clinton, a good person -- and the efforts of "protesters" you
have seen in your Court before? ... You know I try to be honest with
you and always take the witness stand. I am not a criminal...

My efforts to petition Senator Clinton will hopefully stop when we are
able to arrange a meeting between her and parents and not
before. Increasing jail sentences or additional orders should not
modify my behavior. I am not a criminal. How can it be otherwise? I do
not need a change of heart.

I must also apologize for my failure in leadership and planning. If I
could get more people involved we would certainly get a meeting with
Senator Clinton and this would not be happening. I regret that deeply
and it is my responsibility. I am trying the best I can. As always, I
and my family appreciate the kindness and forbearance you and
Mr. Southwick have extended in this difficult situation.

Respectfully, John Murtari

"How well do you know John Murtari - NOT an effective spokesperson."
Here is another perspective on my actions:

Submitted by: Jeff Golden <>

> ... I phoned both her Syracuse, NY and Washington, DC offices,
> briefly explained why I was calling, and left my phone number so I
> could be called back.
> ... I got a return call from a gentleman in Senator Clinton's
> Syracuse office... He asked who is the person who is having
> difficulty meeting with the senator, and I gave your name.  He then
> asked if he could put me on hold for a moment.
> Shortly thereafter a woman picked up the phone.  She identified
> herself as Cathy Calhoun.  I explained to her why I was calling, and
> she asked "How well do you know John Murtari?"
> I thought about that for a moment.  Yes, I know John Murtari.  I
> have read his email writings for a few years.  I know that John
> Murtari is not a physically intimidating person.  I know that he is
> a noncustodial father who believes that his son, like many children
> who are removed from one parent, is suffering a loss -- perhaps even
> being abused -- by a judicial system over which he has no control
> and no input.  I know that John is a deeply religious person.  We
> met for a few hours in Washington, DC last summer.  But I don't
> really KNOW John Murtari.
> I told her that we had met, and I am on your email list.
> She went on to tell me that she had met with you.  She understands
> your concern for your child because she is a single parent.  She
> clearly gave the impression that she did not believe John Murtari is
> an effective spokesperson for noncustodial parents.
> She said child custody issues are state issues, and what could
> federal legislation do about it?  I said that, since the states were
> not handling child custody well, perhaps there should be federal
> legislation guaranteeing children a right to both parents that could
> be uniformly enforced nationwide.  She said that state-by-state
> custody laws work just fine right now, and what is really needed is
> for parents to learn to cooperate.  "Yes," I said, "but that isn't
> happening."  Apparently Cathy Calhoun thinks that conflicting,
> unenforceable state-by-state custody laws work just fine.
> "Would you believe," she asked, "that John Murtari told me most
> domestic violence restraining orders are false?"  This didn't sound
> like a good time for me to tell her of my belief that at least 80%
> of domestic violence charges are falsely made to tilt the scales in
> contested custody cases, and that judges are far quicker to grant
> restraining orders to female alleged "victims" than to men.
> Apparently she was highly incensed that you would even raise such an
> issue.
> "And why," she asked, "does John Murtari ONLY want to meet with
> Senator Clinton?  Senator Schumer and Congressman Walsh have offices
> in this building too.  Why doesn't he take his issues to them?"
> Good point!  "Well," I said, "Senator Clinton wrote a book entitled
> 'It Takes a Village' that established her as a family issues
> legislator."  "That's unfair," Cathy said.  "He could talk to his
> other legislators, or to anyone else on the committee."  Committee?
> What committee?  Is there some committee Clinton is on that we
> should be in contact with?
> "Mr. Murtari has made a nuisance of himself.  What he is doing here
> can only be described as stalking.  He is getting himself in trouble
> with the police, and now the Secret Service is involved.  I'm not
> going to set up a meeting for him with Sen. Clinton.  I told him to
> go to her New York or Washington offices."  "Okay," I said.  "I
> expect to see Mr. Murtari in Washington in June.  I'll recommend to
> him that he contact Sen. Clinton's Washington office and schedule a
> meeting there in June."  Ms. Calhoun then expressed her belief that,
> because of the Secret Service's involvement, she didn't think you
> would be available to meet with anyone in June.
> We spoke for about 15 minutes, but this conversation was going
> nowhere.  Ms. Calhoun is a custodial mother who is obviously very
> happy with her sole-ownership of her own child.  She is also well
> versed in domestic violence victim-speak, and identifies herself as
> the victim of your "stalking."  Since she is Sen. Clinton's
> gatekeeper, it is apparent that you are NEVER going to get through
> that gate.
> But she DID give some good advice:
> 1.  Why not speak to other legislators besides Clinton?  Maybe
> Schumer or Walsh have not surrounded themselves with quite as
> militant a band of femi-nazis. Also, you don't have to limit
> yourself to those with offices in Syracuse.
> 2.  Perhaps Cathy Calhoun DOES feel threatened or uncomfortable
> seeing you walking right outside her office door.  Women aren't
> raised to be brave and self-reliant like us men.  It might be a good
> idea to take your silent protest to the sidewalk outside the federal
> building, where you will get more public exposure.
> 3.  Since you have been unsuccessful in finding others to join you
> in your federal building vigil in Syracuse, maybe it would be a good
> idea for someone else to schedule a meeting with Sen. Clinton for "a
> group of parents" at her New York City or Washington office.  You
> can be one of the parents in the group.

--- "Nadine G. Mendelsohn-Ziskind" <>

> I tried to contact Sen. Clinton a few months ago because she sits on
> the Senate Sub-committee for families.  I called her office and
> spoke to a legislative aide, but Senator Clinton never returned my
> phone call or sent me a letter.
> I live in Alabama and the chair of the sub-committee is Alabama's
> Senator Jeff Sessions.  I have contacted his office on many
> occasions, by phone.  e-mail and postal service.  I have never
> gotten a response.  Neither did my husband, so I tried Hilary, who
> claims to be for the children.  Nada.
> I had suggested that the hearings on family that were proposed by
> Jeff Sessions have divorced fathers and other ncp's and 2nd wives
> and children in 2nd families testify before the Senate.  I guess
> they did not want to open that pandora's box.

                                       John Murtari
Coordinator                            AKidsRight.Org
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org                "A Kid's Right to BOTH parents"
Toll Free (877) 635-1968(x-211)        http://www.AKidsRight.Org/
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