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NonViolent Action - Example
John Murtari
[total of 2 arrests - 21 nights in jail - all charges dismissed]

dom2.jpg (6647 bytes)Denied relief in several  appeals on Issue of Jury Trial (including US Supreme Court), read details here. Most recent "bad news" was the relocation of his son, Domenic to California. He tried letter writing to civic leaders, but no effect. What follows below is a detailed example of a positive action -- we hope those of you considering action will review it carefully. Personal remarks/comments have been added in italicsJohn's background. NEW - video clips of the protest.

We hope it will be a good example of how to take action. Like many things, it is not so much what you do -- but how you do it. Please contact us if you have questions. Our staff can help in planning and publicizing you or your groups actions. If you wish to comment, check out our forum.

This is  the beginning of a new Civil Rights Movement, seeking new Civil Rights legislation that protects the rights of parents to associated with their children. Please take the time to read the Civil Disobedience material at the main site.

2/19/99 - Arrested - Murtari (dressed in shirt and tie), went to a Sheriff's substation and peacefully asked to be  arrested.   There was some discussion with the deputies, John refused to leave, and was arrested for trespass. At all times I was polite with the law enforcements folks. Some expressed contempt and thought the idea was stupid. I did not insult them, but just affirmed my belief the system needed improvement.

When he was "arrested" he was hand-cuffed and brought in front of a Town Judge for arraignment. John had explained to the deputies and Judge that he did not want bail and wanted to be held in custody -- if released, he would just do it again. The judge assigned a bail amount, which was not paid -- and John was taken to Onondaga County Justice Center (Jail) in Syracuse.

At the first opportunity John contacted his office, and had them fax the following news release to a prepared list of media contacts (here is our list). One of the goals is to get publicity. If there had been a larger group of people involved the media would have been contacted in advance. In this case I was just one person.

In his first day in Jail he was contacted by a local newspaper reporter (yes, you can be interviewed while in jail). A phone interview was done, and the following story ran in both the Morning and Evening papers in the Syracuse area: Syracuse Newspapers, February 20, 1999, actual paper image.  A message was also sent out over the mailing list used by Kids-Right, this resulted in another News Release from a sympathetic organization, Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents Rights (ANCPR):      Their news release.

2/20/99 - In Jail - This page on the web site was updated to include information on how to help. At the time the protest was going a single web page was the "focal point" for any recent news/information:

Write to John :

John Murtari
POD 4B-36
555 South State Street,
Syracuse, NY 13202

Write to Public Officials on John's Behalf

Another story regarding the protest also appeared in the Finger Lake Times,   actual paper image.

2/24/99 - Short release - In an unusual incident, John is released from Jail by the Town Justice. The protest might have ended right here. I found myself released at about 10PM wondering what to do, how to get back in Jail.   Next door to the Jail was the City Police Department (The Public Safety Building). I walked over there and initially the police just ignored me and told me to go away. For a   while I almost thought I would walk away -- it was late, I was tired, maybe it was time to call it quits. I thought about Domenic and I thought about overcoming difficulties. I continued to insist for arrest with the police until they finally forced me out of the building -- and for a while I thought I was going to be injured -- see the Letter to the Mayor for details.  Finally, I was back in Jail -- again.

2/25/99 - Sympathetic Protest - In an unplanned act. Another person in the community responded to the article by doing a one-man protest in front of the Justice Center where John was held. This was also covered in the local Syracuse Paper, February 25th, actual paper image. I never quite realized it, but few things are more comforting to a person in Jail that someone writing a letter or making a personal visit. I was touched by the people that wrote me. I was especially moved by the one person who protested alone in my support! One person can make a difference!

Life in Jail - If you want some details on what life on the "inside" is like, check the FAQ. One thing I realized during this "stay" was this:  Almost all the people there were somehow involved in either Drug/Alcohol abuse, situations they could not control very well. Many of the people I met had families, wives (who sometimes were also abusers) and children. When released they were free to interact with their children again -- I was not.  The reason being, all my spouse had to do was challenge the marriage.  In an "absolute" sense it had nothing to do with my conduct or fitness as a parent.

3/2/99 - Still Protesting in Jail - Another message was sent out from the group: Read news release

Copies of John's Letters to Public Officials :
In writing these letters I tried to treat the people with respect. Especially in the letter to legislative leaders I asked them to see the protest as a demonstration of my concern -- not as an attempt to intimidate them.
Response from Public Officials :
(note - best response from Assemblyman Bragman's office. Got a thoughtful reply which will provide a start.)

3/6/99 - In Jail TV Interview - John was interviewed by Dan Forsythe, a producer for Time Warner 13 - a local cable access channel for over an hour. In was a "news magazine" type story, to be aired March 25th (7:30 PM).

3/8/99 - Silent Vigil planned- a news release was sent out to the media and the mailing list about plans for a silent vigil on Wednesday, at Noon, March 10th.  The vigil was mentioned on Chan 9 (ABC affiliate) in the late night news. The idea of a "vigil" had not been planned or coordinated ahead of time. I just hoped some people would come -- and they did!

3/10/99 - In Jail TV Interview - John was interviewed by Dan Cummings, a reported for Channel 9 (ABC) for about 30 minutes.Rich O'Neil, one of the people outside the jail was also interviewed.  It appeared on the evening local news.

3/12/99 - Released from Jail. - latest press release.

5/5/99 -  Newspaper Column -  Jury for Divoce is "not" a good idea. The article (paper image).