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NonViolent Action - It starts with a look in the mirror (I)

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Wed Sep 11 2002 - 21:25:42 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

The last several weeks have been very "eventful." You may want to
check the site for current info on events in Syracuse,
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr -- but to briefly recap.

* On Aug 28th I appeared in front of City Judge Young and he appears to 
be ready to prosecute.  He did not want to dismiss the trespass charges,
and while my attorney is still going to argue a Motion for Dismissal
on Oct. 10th -- there is little doubt in our minds that it will go to
trial.  And since trespass is a minor offense, there is no jury, just
the Judge, and I think I know what the verdict will be.

* This weekend - I will be flying out west to see my Son Domenic
for the weekend.  My mother (86) will be coming also (she hasn't
missed a trip!).  Dom and I have been talking every few days and
are looking forward to putting a new model F-16 together. Among a list
of about 20 other colors, it requires gray, light gray, dark gray, & 
smoke gray.  Imagine that!

* Next week (Sep 18th, Wed) - I will be arraigned by a Federal
Magistrate for the Northern District of New York (Syracuse).  It will
be at 9am.  Given the speed with which this came up it also seems the
local US Attorney's office may be ready to prosecute. Anyone
intresting in attending is welcome.

* Next week (Sep 19th, Thur) - I will be returning to the Syracuse
Federal Building to continue "our" efforts outside the offices of
Senator Hillary R. Clinton.  This will probably result in arrest
number seven. Imagine that!  After the dismissal of 21 prior charges,
these may finally "stick."  Anyone interested in watching or
participating is welcome!  

Wow, could anyone ever imagine you could get in this much "trouble"
for just wanting to talk to your US Senator about a serious family
issue?  But seriously, the purpose of the effort was to show the
willingness of loving parents to make voluntary sacrifice for the sake
of their kids and those of others (NonViolent Action).

Some people may think the attempt is foolish, but I'm sure Senator
Clinton's local staff is keeping track of events.  As long as only ONE
person is arrested and potentially tried, he is just a "crank," acting
alone.  If even one or two more people get involved, it becomes a
"movement."  A public trial could bring media attention and be an
embarrassment. A meeting would become almost a certainty and we would
begin to have some focused national attention on "our" issue.  Your
participation is welcome: http://www.AKIdsRight.Org/actionc_syr

In the remainder of this message (and maybe another) I wanted to share
some thoughts I've had on NonViolent Action and share a recent
personal experience with a Syracuse Police Officer.

How to influence Senator Clinton

Just a few days ago I saw the following news story come across the
net. I include the text below, it caught my eye since it was about a
use of what they called nonviolent action:

Furor rages about whether the Augusta National Golf Club (ANGC), a
private club that hosts the Masters Golf Tournament, should admit
women as members. But the continuing flood of commentary misses a key
aspect of the debate: the woman's group pushing for admission is not
using governmental might but the strategy of "nonviolent action"
<> -- and they are using it
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> excerpts from above site <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols 
14. Mock awards  
30. Rude gestures  
32. Taunting officials 

Those who use the "nonviolent action" to achieve social change benefit
immensely from any over-reaction from whomever is targeted. A main
goal of certain types of nonviolent action is to provoke a response
while retaining the "high" ground.

I guess we don't own the words "NonViolent Action."  I think that is
why our site says, "NonViolent Action" as practiced recently by Gandhi
& Martin Luther King.  Caricatures, mocking, the finger, and taunting
don't quite seem part of achieving change by demonstrating Faith,
Love, and personal Sacrifice?  But maybe they are more satisfying!
http://www.AKidsRIght.Org/civil_back.htm (for more info).

But the last paragraph stopped and made me think.  Is our goal in this
attempt to arrange a meeting with Senator Clinton also an opportunity
to make her look like an idiot. If we do get a trial for a "Syracuse
Five," what are they going to be caught saying on the Five O'Clock
News?  What would YOU want to say?

"We're here because we really love our kids. It's a shame that Senator
Clinton has been so unresponsive to us (and her staff has been so
rude), that we have had to end up in jail.  We wish she would care
more about family issues ... and listen better to the people of
America. We hope this will encourage her to finally act..."  

How does that sound?  Not really bad is it? So, maybe we tried to take
the moral "high" ground, but heck -- we deserve it!

Do we?  I keep having to think back to what we have said in the past
about NonViolent Action, an opportunity for us to demonstrate our
committment to our cause by demonstrating, Faith, Love, and Personal
Sacrifice. Look in the mirror.  How about trying this on for size:

"We're here because we really love our kids. We know the Senator is a
caring person and is concerned about children's issues.  We know she
is very busy and it's hard to give attention to every issue. We have
made this sacrifice in hope that our actions will show the depth of
our love for our children and the serious need there is for reform.
She is a powerful member of Congress and we need to speak to her."

and maybe add:

"We're sorry it's taken us so long to finally demonstrate how strongly
we feel about our kids -- even when we saw it happening in our own
homes. It took us all a while to have the Faith to respond. We
understand why it is taking her a while to respond..."

Our Failings & Faith

A lot of people write and tell me NonViolent Action doesn't always
work (in the way we expect?).  A few weeks ago that was brought home
to me during one of my arrests.  After about 28 times I'm getting 
pretty knowledgable about arrest procedures, I usually see the
same officers and usually they mellow as they get to know me.

Well, Officer X was going to be the exception. He slapped the
hand cuffs on hard the first time around and made a point of
pushing me in the right direction.  The second time round he managed
to give me a hard tap in the "balls" as he was frisking my legs.
He would always look at me with disdain and would not start a

Well, the third time was the charm.  It was 95 and a sunny, humid day.
He and his partner put me in the patrol car with the engine off and
the windows rolled up.  I sweated like a pig for 10-15 minutes while
they talked outside.  Now, I didn't say anything, but my thoughts were
clear, "Why you stupid A## Holes!"  On the way to the jail he called
home and told someone he would be late off his shift to look after
the kids.  Then he asked me if I knew the hassle I was causing and
that I was just a selfish human being.

Now, I just said "no," but in my thoughts I added, "you stupid jerk!"
We drove for a while, and he made some similar comments.  I tried to
change the topic by telling him he was lucky to have some kids to go
home to. He then responded with, "Well, by that comment I know you
don't care about anyone buy yourself.  You protesters just don't
care."  I didn't say a thing, but my thoughts were, "buddy, why
don't you just go F#ck yourself."

By this time I thought, "this guy is a lost cause. All the NonViolent
action on earth wouldn't get through to this blockhead."  We got to
the jail, his partner left, and he and I were alone waiting to be
admitted.  He then walks up to me and says,"I want to apologize for
what happened on the way over here ... it's been long day and these
guys in booking are so slow, I'm always late getting out of here...
That is no excuse for me giving you a hard time."

Man!  My jaw just about hit the floor. All I did was nod my head and
we got to talking about the force, the job, and retirement.  He asked
me if I could do my thing a little bit earlier in the day (I usually
walk into the building around 2pm) so it wouldn't be near the end of
the shift.  I told him I had to take the bus and I tried to get some
work done in the morning.  But that I would try (and I will) -- next
time will be closer to 1PM.  He asked me about what I was doing and
trying to accomplish.  It was a regular talk.

Did I apologize to him for my thoughts, no, it never even came to
mind. I was just so shocked.  If I would have gone "off" and said what
I was thinking.  There would have been an entirely different ending.
One that would have confirmed my worst suspicions. Imagine that!  It
was a look in the mirror.

Be Perfect

Boy, you don't hear that too often.  It's okay to have faults,
problems.  We're only human.  Don't give yourself a 'complex.'

I think about the words of Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, not
just "Be Perfect", but "Be Perfect as your Heavenly Father is
Perfect."  Now, that is a tall order!  No wonder I hear some people
say we need a "New Religion" for our modern age -- can you really
believe this "Be Perfect" stuff?

I don't really have a lot of time now, its about 9pm and we have
to get up at about 4:30 to catch the morning flight to see Dom --
one we don't want to miss....

But I want to just close with some thoughts I had this Sunday as I was
praying in Church.  I thought about Christ's parable of the Pharisee
and the Sinner praying in the temple.  The one thanking God for not
being fault filled like the rest of men.  The other simply saying,
"Have mercy on me God, a sinner."

I guess we're all suppose to sympathize with the little guy, but when
I thought about some recent events, and how I had acted -- VERY, VERY
far from Perfect. I could really climb into his sandles.  That I too
was simply asking for Mercy and Forgiveness, for falling so short of
the mark.  Tears came to my eyes.  Will I ever again think "Go F#ck
yourself!" to someone who doesn't quite get it -- I really don't think
so.  I really can't even imagine it now.  I took a look in the mirror.

Good night!

John Murtari

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