Thoughts on reform/ Connecticut parent on hunger strike.

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Fri Jan 30 2009 - 11:50:45 EST

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Good People & People of Faith:

Let me begin by thanking Don Mathis <>,, who wrote my New York
State Assemblyman about the right of parents to know they have a
child, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/parental_notification

Your help is needed!  I know upstate NY is a long drive for many, but
if you're willing to make the trip let me know and perhaps a common
day can be arranged for a real media event.  Also, if you write/call
Mr. Oaks, please let me know! (His contact info at link above.)

The rest of this message shares some personal thoughts I've had in the
last few months and also news of a parent on a hunger strike that
wants to die as part of a protest...

   Sometimes it's easy to forget about indignity and having basic
   rights violated.  We try and work for change, make 'sacrifices',
   but nothing seems to matter.  We grow older, maybe get a little
   somber, 'is this as good as it gets?' Have we have started a
   downward slide that is beyond our control?

   Remember the old saying, 'time heals all wounds.'  Some truth to
   that?  How many parents have forgotten about the children they
   lost in the 'system'.  The pain and the tears when you were first
   torn apart -- it all begins to fade...

   Like a lot of science says, "there is no God!  When you die -- you
   are dead and there is no pie in the sky!  Let's take care of
   number 1 first and enjoy the little we have need to go
   overboard!  It's a corrupt system, what can one person do?"

I don't know about you, but those thoughts have crossed my mind.  As
many of you know, I'm not driving right now.  Many friends in town
offer rides and I welcome there help, but when I can, I just stick to
walking -- trudging through the cold & snow drifts really clears the
mind!  Having to walk while other people drive by helps me not forget
the indignity...

If I needed any more, I got my face 'rubbed in the mud' yesterday
while standing outside Assemblyman Oaks' offices.  Not from him!  He's
a nice guy and had the time to talk as he walked by.  No, I got a call
from a local attorney who is very experienced in Family Law -- who I'd
hoped could help with a support modification. Help get things back to
normal and my license returned.  There I was holding a poster for
reform in one hand, and a cell phone in the other -- what I heard:

    I don't see anything here to support a change in circumstance.
    They imputed income to you ten years ago. You decided to stick
    with lower income at your own business to have more time for
    family. Time spent making long distance visits to your son,
    protesting for reform, and taking care of your mom while she was
    terminally ill.  You chose to spend money to see your son, instead
    of paying all the support...

    Those were your decisions and you may be happy with how things
    turned out, but decisions have consequences. I don't think a Judge
    is going to change anything and your only hope is to negotiate
    with your former spouse..... I don't take payment plans.  I'll
    need $1500.00 upfront to start the process.....

    ... Just remember boy, segregation yesterday, today, and forever! 
    You just sit in the back of that bus and keep your mouth
    shut. Don't talk to me about no equal rights, any fool can tell
    you are black and I'm white -- we are not equal!  No Judge is
    going to help you!  

I'm not angry with the attorney. I appreciate his honest and
'practical' assessment of the situation. Like many of us, he may have
started out with high ideals regarding the legal system, but now we
are just more down-to-earth. I better buy some good walking shoes!!!!

NonViolent Action
I have to remind myself why the salutation above includes, "People of
Faith."  If you haven't had time in the past, please take a few
minutes and read some historical background on NonViolent Action,


We've talked about the vague goals we have for reform, but what about
our methods?  Loving and voluntary self-sacrifice for what we believe
in. No violence or anger required.

I regret being associated with the terminology 'hunger-strike.'  I
prefer to carry a picture of parents/children and offer the 'system'
an opportunity to throw me in jail. I take care of myself in jail. I
have voluntarily sacrificed my freedom for what I believe in. A model
which can be VERY EFFECTIVE with a group.  I can recall dramatic &
peaceful 'sit-ins' during the Vietnam war, where participants were
dragged off to jail.  Why aren't we doing that as parents?  Could any
politician resist the impact of loving MOTHERS AND FATHERS willing to
accept jail for the love of their kids?

I've had two incidents where the 'system' dragged me off the street
and into jail on their initiative.  I chose non cooperation.  I told
them I would not eat or drink voluntarily in their facility -- they
would have to use medical means (and undergo expense) to hold me
prisoner.  It was unpleasant and there were risks, but my 'goal' was
NOT to hurt myself....

The Desperation of Parental Suicide and Hunger Strike
It's taken a while to get some good details, but I'd encourage you to
write the following parent who is on a hunger strike and wants to die
in jail.  The news links and excerpts below will give you the details.

Mr. William Coleman  (3-305106) 
1153 East Street South,
Suffield, CT 06080

Our mailing list has over 5000 members right now, not counting
redistribution.  If you write Mr. Coleman, let me know.  In a few days
I'll send out a message that summarizes our response to another parent
in trouble....

What is the truth in this matter?  I don't know.  But I do know he is
a parent.  I do know his right to presumed a FIT & EQUAL parent to his
kids is not recognized in our society.  I do know he has two sons who
still have the potential to love him very much.

I will write him and ask him to change his approach and use non
cooperation.  As always, only he knows the fullness of his situation,
what he has been through, and what he is capable of doing.  After
getting his eventual freedom, to 'voluntarily' accept jail as part of
a peaceful action would send a more powerful message.

Being 'dragged' into jail by the system usually makes a poor platform
for reform.  It's easy to call it an 11th hour conversion. Perhaps
more effective for him (and for us) to simply sacrifice our freedom in
NonViolent Action -- then the message is clear....  

Article Links
Op-ed by Jane Mills (excerpts below)

    "Coleman is protesting a criminal justice system he has observed to
    be susceptible to wrongful convictions and is therefore a threat
    to the public. He says the system is easily manipulated by spouses
    making criminal accusations during divorce or custody proceedings,
    according to court papers and a personal statement publicly
    released. He was accused by his ex-wife of rape while they were
    involved in a bitter custody dispute over their two young sons. No
    rape kit was ever performed. He was convicted by a jury in
    Waterbury Superior Court in 2005 in a case that was rife with
    worrisome questions about thin evidence covered at the time by the
    press and has served over four years of an eight year prison
    term. He will register as a sex offender upon his release if his
    conviction is not overturned and if he lives to see that day. He
    has not seen his sons since his incarceration....

    Hunger strikes are last resort free speech. They are the voice of
    the voiceless. They are testimony that no one has listened to
    every other attempt to speak. They are testament of a voice robbed
    of credibility. The message of hunger strikes is just that. They
    should be provocative, causing the so-called 'system' to reflect
    on whether it cares about truth and justice, it's imperatives, or
    whether it has forsaken its highest duties. They ask the public to
    stop and listen with an open mind....

    No one wants William Coleman to die. So shall we allow the state
    to quash his speech and steal his medical choices or shall we urge
    him to eat so we can hear him out and look closely at his claims?",0,5233960.story
Check a different tone on the above news article.  He is just a
'convicted rapist!'....
Read the comments posted at this site -- 'let the guy kill himself,
who cares!' (mostly from other men, of course?!)

                                       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/

A Kid's Right to Both Parents!
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