Checklist for NonViolent Action
-- Discernment --
- Exercise all your legal options - Before considering an
action please make sure you have exhausted all the legal remedies available to you. If you
can appeal, do so. If you have the money, spend it on a good lawyer (get a referral from a
parent's group in your area). Trust us, when you are sitting in a jail cell -- the other
legal options will look very good!
- Try to approach your former spouse for resolution -- As you
go through the personal preparation prior to taking an action, you will probably discover
changing attitudes within yourself. Perhaps you weren't just the victim of this whole
mess? Maybe your "ex" is not a fire breathing dragon who doesn't care about the
kids? Maybe you did and said things you shouldn't have done. Clear your conscience.
and apologize. Let them know you just want to be an equal parent. Maybe you'll be able to
make a fresh attempt at mediation or counseling. Again, jail gives you lots of time to
think, your attempt may not work -- but it is crucial that you try. If you want to just
hold on to the anger, STOP, Non Violent Action is not for you.
- Prayer & Reflection -- This is about Faith. Your
willingness to sacrifice your personal freedom to call attention to the unjust loss of
your child. Do you have that Faith? Are you active in the religion of your choice? We all
have our doubts, but are you more a believer than a skeptic? If you can't answer yes to
all these, STOP -- this may not be the right approach for you at the present time.
- Take a personal inventory -- Could you stand a year in jail?
The discomforts and lack of privacy? If you have prior military experience you should be
fine -- it is much easier than basic training. Can you keep smiling when bad things happen
to you? Can you control your temper?
-- Preparations and Review --
- Talk to family & friends -- Tell them what you are
thinking of doing. Talk to your lawyer. Listen carefully as they try to talk you out of
it, respond thoughtfully. You don't have to agree with them, but try to understand why. If
you lose your temper with these people, STOP. You really want to hear all the
"no" arguments now -- believe us, they will all make a lot more sense when you
are behind bars.
- Take care of your finances & property -- Remember, you
might end up in jail for up to a year. Can you afford it? Do you have people on the
outside who can help manage your affairs?
- Your child -- We can only recommend this if you are
basically "cut off" from a real relationship with your child. If you only have
phone/mail contact with them -- it won't change much from prison. Just remember, you can
usually only make collect calls. You need a friend with three-way calling, some staff may
allow you to make a weekly call to your child using a jail phone (having a calling card
If you could be missing "visits," try to explain that you are
working so that you can see them more. The focus is "for them," NOT "anti
others." Certainly, don't tell them your spouse is to blame.
- Contact AKidsRight.Org -- We have people who have been
through what you are about to experience. They can give you valuable advice. The Group
will also be able to help you with News Release support for publicity and a status page at
our web site. It helps a lot if you have someone locally who knows you and can act as not
only a spokesperson for media contacts, but also help develop material for News Releases
and for our web site. This is crucial.
-- NonViolent Action --
- Plan your action -- whatever you choose to do it should be
clear that you are trying to call attention to reform. One technique is to take some
white cardstock, app. 14'' x 8". Fold it like a greeting card and tape a 5 x 7
photo of you and your children on each side. Draw a heart on the other half. www.AKidsRight.Org across the bottom. It can be
- Dress for the event -- no T-shirts or jeans, use business
attire. For men that means good slacks, white shirt, and tie. Wear
comfortable shoes or white sneakers -- you usually keep your footwear in jail. Good
dress projects a professional image and will also get you "better handling" by
police. Remove all your jewelry. If you are arrested it will be stored by the
jail and you don't want to risk losing it. Have about $50 in cash.
One key thing
to bring is a single sheet of paper with names, addresses, and phone numbers of people you
might want to contact in jail. Keep it in a pocket. Most "jailers"
will pass it through, just tell them it has your lawyers and family members. Leave a
copy with a friend who can mail it to you as a back-up.
- Do It -- Walk into your public building of choice.
After you are inside just open your card and hold it with one hand above your head and
start your walk. Be quiet and smile. Remember, don't speak unless spoken to.
Your actions will speak much louder than words. Here is what you can expect
from actual incidents:
- Security staff will approach you and tell you the conduct is not
allowed. Your answer, with a smile, "I'm just walking, just exercising free
speech and the right to petition to my government." THESE ARE VERY
IMPORTANT WORDS. You are not protesting, demonstrating, picketing or
- Staff will then tell you, "you should go outside like everyone
else does, what makes you think you're special? Your answer, "What I'm
doing is different, I just want to do it here. I'm not bothering anyone."
- At some point you will be threatened with arrest. Don't argue with them, they are
just doing their jobs.
- You will be asked, Why are you doing this? "I belong to a group working
for Family Law Reform & Civil Rights. All I'm trying to do is get the chance to
be an equal parent to my children whom I love very much. We are trying to get a
Family Rights Act passed." DO NOT talk about child support, how bad
judges/lawyers are, or what a bad spouse you had. The message is one of LOVE.
- Some staff will get angry with you and slander you. What you are doing is stupid,
do you think being jailed is going to help you see your kids. This won't work ...
Quietly and with a smile, "Well, you may be right,, but I really think
this will make a difference."
- DO NOT PAY ANY BAIL. Bail is basically a guarantee that you will appear for
trial. You should simply be ROR'd (Released On your own Recognizance). You are
an honorable person, obviously you will make all Court dates. Since there is nothing
wrong with what you are doing -- you won't delay in going back. Don't make any
promises, other than to be peaceful & polite!
- The Effect/Real Example -- People will initially see you as
a threat, as another radical protester -- not as a fellow parent struggling for your
children. Your positive message and peaceful demeanor will help them change those
attitudes. Not all, but many will certainly come to respect you. For a
detailed example please examine a recent effort by John Murtari and the response of staff
both at a County Courthouse & Federal Building. The URL is