34 Franklin Street
Lyons, NY 14489
September 13, 2004
Mr. Richard Southwick Assistant United States Attorney
RE: United States v. Murtari
P.O. Box 7198
100 S. Clinton St
Syracuse, NY 13261-7198
Dear Mr. Southwick and Ms. Clinton:
Events at the Federal Building in recent weeks have caused me to reconsider my methods. I never expected to be ‘pushed’ away from the building as I attempted to contact a Member of Congress (but not charged with a crime). Physical force has been used to resolve an uncomfortable situation. This has placed me in a difficult position. I had to review all that has happened:
I am a peaceful and respectful parent trying to communicate with my Member of Congress about recognizing and protecting the Civil Right I have to be a parent to my own child. I have been:
- Arrested and tried unjustly. Found guilty of violating rules that don’t exist or of actions that did not happen. I was surprised to find how ‘weak’ building rules were, but GSA has a giant staff and they should have rewritten their rules.
- Reported unjustly to the Secret Service (by my Member of Congress) for investigation and have staff use that as an excuse for no meeting to take place.
- Pushed around a Federal Building without arrest and had Federal Judge aware of the situation offer no protection.
- Subjected to a ‘broad’ stay away order that prohibits me from peacefully visiting the offices of ALL my Members of Congress in that building.
The ‘overwhelming’ physical power of the State separated me from my Son (and didn’t care of the love we had), it has ruined my personal life and it is difficult for any parent to respond. I have no animosity toward the individuals, but what happened then (and now) is just plain wrong. I am being (was) treated like some kind of ‘bag lady’ that just needed to be pushed away….
Between the Offices of Senator Clinton and the US Attorney, and myself – we need to resolve this, but no one appears ready to reconsider. I know there are accommodations that can be reached in the ‘interest of justice.’ As a minimum, to allow a constituent to peacefully petition outside her offices on the 14th floor – if the Senator is still not ready for a meeting. But I think we need to “write things down” – that peaceful conduct will not be disturbed; I will not be ‘pushed’ away from the building again – that reporting a peaceful constituent to the Secret Service was a mistake.
Both of you are in positions of great power and authority. I hardly think to pull back a bit would be seen as a sign of weakness. It would certainly be seen as a sign of compassion and graciousness. It would send a positive message to the many people watching this situation and who are cynical about government.
As the ‘weakest link’ I am hardly in a position to withdraw. It would too easily be seen as cowardice and lack of conviction (especially now that physical force is being applied). I would have to deny my belief in NonViolent Action and in the power of peaceful voluntary sacrifice in major social reform. What could I say to the loving parents of the AKidsRight.Org group – ‘it all sounded good in theory, but didn’t work out to well in practice?’
Most of all, what could I say to my son, Domenic. I have talked to him about Faith, and Love, and a God that loves each of us dearly (more than any parent loves their own child). He is old enough now to understand what Daddy ‘does’ to try to change things and I have talked to him about the Civil Rights struggle to break segregation. That people had to sacrifice and there was a lot of pain (and it is hard for him to understand why – it still is for me). But I have told him that ‘good things will happen’ and that ‘someday’ we will have a normal life together – how can I ever just walk away?
Please, I do ask you to act quickly and before the Court date next week. There is no need for more jail time here. Because of the change in ‘schedule’ I was able to plan a trip to see Domenic for the weekend with my mother – we even got a good deal on the fair. I am thankful for that time and so is Dom.
John Murtari http://www.AKidsRight.Org/