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Letter to Senator Schumer and Clinton, Representative Walsh


Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton & Representative Walsh:                    4 January 2002

I'd like to make this last minute appeal to you from Mothers and Fathers seeking reform of our Nation's Family Law "system." In the next few weeks I (and perhaps others) may be arrested and jailed in peaceful NonViolent Action outside your offices in the Syracuse, NY, Federal Building. Why?

Senator Schumer and Senator Clinton, after initial meetings with staff last spring -- we have had no follow up dialog. It seems almost unbelievable that we have not even received a written reply after several letters and petitions were sent to both your local and Washington offices. It may be that each of you is not even personally aware of what is happening? Do loving parents need to risk jail to focus the attention of our elected representatives?

Each of you has my sincere respect and I can appreciate your busy schedule and overworked staff. If a National Family Rights Act is so important, where are the hundreds of phone calls to your offices, the thousands of letters, the many thousands marching in the streets?

We can only ask each of you to consider stepping forward, being "proactive" and taking a leadership role in calling for Congressional hearings into the need for Civil Rights protection for families. Many of us, including myself, never gave the patchwork of well meant "family/child" legislation a second thought -- until being caught in the system ourselves, along with our children.

I hope each each of you will be able to appreciate the agony of parents and children unjustly separated -- without the need for first hand experience. In the same way I hope you would have been able to appreciate the horrors of slavery, the injustice of being denied the right to vote, and the indignity of being seated in the "back of the bus." As parents we hope you will dare to exercise leadership to guide us in a struggle, that many foresee to be very contentious, but does not have to be so. That you will use your tremendous resources to help shape and educate public opinion.

We certainly can't expect you to immediately call for such hearings. Instead of jail, all of us would much rather work on dialog with your staff so we can both better understand the nature of the problem. Allow us to help in collecting witnesses and evidence of a system gone terribly wrong. At the end we expect to not only hear your decision about the need for Congressional hearings, but also the rationale. Does the parent/child bond require Federal Civil Rights protection?

Why voluntary jail? Because we are not well funded lobbyists, nor are we a local group looking for funding for a project, or an improvement to existing laws. We are parents who have been deprived of our very dignity, the right to nurture our own children. Certainly the depth of our response should match the importance of our cause. As a military officer I was ready to make great sacrifice for my Country, does not my very child deserve that same devotion?

Please, this is an urgent matter and a year has almost elapsed. I noted with some irony a recent article in USA Today, about Members of Congress calling for hearings to discuss the nature of military tribunals to be used in the War on Terrorism. They wanted to apply our Constitution's greatest civil protections -- the standards of "proof beyond reasonable doubt" and "unanimous verdict of a jury" to these actions. If there is time for that -- don't the parents and children of this country deserve a discussion of those very same protections before being separated for potentially a life time?

On a personal note I wanted to let you know how impressed we were with the local staff of Senator Schumer, Jill Harvey did a simply outstanding job of "listening" to our group and providing important feedback. I also want to thank Representative Walsh for always taking the time to provide the courtesy of a written reply to our letters. We hope that will turn into a more meaningful dialog. We look to you all to help us through the political process.

I have attached some documents and references. There is so much more to say and do -- but first we need two sides interested in serious communication. Please let us know you are ready. You are welcome to contact me at my office (315) 635-1968,x-211; or also Yvonne Cook, our Public Relations person, at (219) 341-1925.

John Murtari

CC: Kathy Calhoun, Senator Clinton Regional Rep.
CC: Jill Harvey, Senator Schumer Regional Rep.

Attach (both hard copy and web site link):
1. Recent Letter regarding reform - http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionb_syr/cover2.htm
2. Potential Congressional Witnesses  - http://www.AKidsRight.Org/legislative_resources.htm