Letter to Local Leaders – let NonViolent action work

c/o Software Workshop Inc.
55 E. Genesee Street
Baldwinsville, NY 13027
25 December, 1999

Dear Congressman Walsh, Ladies & Gentleman:

I write this in hope of gaining your help in being restored as an equal parent in my child’s life. I have attempted to draw public attention by a series of NonViolent Actions in the local community. The effort during the past year is documented at the web site, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/

I wish to call your special attention to two recent events. A decision by City Judge Merrill allowing me to quietly carry a sign inside the County Courthouse. When he dropped three pending charges of “trespass” against me he commented, “you do not check your right to free speech when you pass through the metal detector . . .”

In recent weeks I have been taken into custody several times in a similar action at the Federal Building — staff there has told me the lobby is too “constrained” to permit my actions, but that they also would not be permitted anywhere else in the building — residents might complain.

Congressman Walsh, I specifically address this letter to you and your staff for help in reaching a compromise. I hope you could “accept” a couple of parents quietly conducting a similar action on your floor of the building. This is not a protest against you or your actions — when I originally considered my actions at the Federal Building I had thought about “walking” on your floor of the building, but rejected it as appearing confrontational  (or somehow singling you out for action).  This is NOT my goal.

As a coordinator for Kids-Right.Org I am helping to form a group which uses NonViolent Action to achieve its goal of Family Law reform.  We are not “in your face”, loud, or violent protesters. You are welcome to check with the Sheriff’s security detail at the Courthouse — I was quiet, smiled, and did not speak to anyone unless spoken to. I even smiled when ‘heckled’ by a few of the passing staff.   Given the present national environment where the slightest real or imagined wrong is an excuse to denigrate or even physically harm an offender — this should be a welcome change of conduct.

As people of faith we accept God’s will (as difficult as it may be to understand), but unlike sickness or accidents, we don’t believe the tragedy surrounding Divorce to be an “act of God.” We are not shrill in condemning Judges and Lawyers as “bad people”, or seeing ourselves as victims of the Divorce Industry or some other conspiracy.  With humility we acknowledge that given the same background and placed in the same position — we might make the same decisions. That is why we draw the line at NonViolent Action, we treat everyone with respect and courtesy (including  former spouses).

The “system” needs to be fixed. There is too much power in the hands of too few people. In a society which recognizes so many different “rights” — have we forgotten our most basic rights to home and family? I ask that all of you pause to consider our simple goals — the recognition of the basic civil right of parent’s to associate with their children — and to offer jury protection when that relationship is threatened. We have captured these goals in the Family Rights Act.

Please understand why I am trying to “fight city hall.”   I have exhausted all appeals and letter writing (indeed many of you have politely responded to my letters) — most recently I wrote the Governor, and received another “sorry, can’t help” reply.  I love my son and he loves me. I cannot accept what I feel to be an unjust separation. Even within the present “system” this should not have happened.

I hope my “actions speak louder than words” in showing the depth of my concern over my child. Some people find my actions strange.  I used to be an Air Force instructor pilot. One of the commitments I made then was to make sure my student got out of the aircraft before me in any emergency. This could have cost me my life in a potential attempt to save a “bumbling” student — does not the welfare of my own flesh and blood deserve the same effort? More specifics on my complaint are documented at the web site.

Finally, I may be one person, but I hope you appreciate there are many, many, more mothers, fathers, and children in situations similar to mine that can REALLY use your help. Not too long ago a Congressional Committee held hearings into the conduct of the IRS. People were shocked by the testimony of individual tax payers – I can assure you that hearings into our Family Law System would produce testimony that would leave you in tears. If the IRS makes a mistake, “well, its only money.” In a Family Court mistake – you lose your own children!

Sincerely yours,
John Murtari

 CC: Bishop James Moynihan, Diocese of Syracuse
CC: Assemblyman Michael Bragman, New York State Assembly Major Leader
CC: Mr. Daniel French, U.S. Attorney, Northern District of New York
CC: Judge Thomas Higgins, Syracuse City Court
CC: Judge Jeffrey Merrill, Syracuse City Court
Judge Sandra Townes, Syracuse City Court
CC: Daniel Fitzpatrick, Distract Attorney for Onondaga County