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Syracuse, New York (March 2, 1999) - Mr. John Murtari has completed 10 days of his nonviolent protest against the Family Law system of the State of New York. A native of Lyons, NY, Mr. Murtari walked into a Town of Salina Sheriff’s substation on February 19, 1999 and asked to be arrested as a "prisoner of conscience." He has been held at the Onondaga County Justice Center ever since, and is refusing bail. He is also refusing the option of being released on his own recognizance.

On Wednesday February 24,1999, Murtari was released against his wishes by a Town of Salina Judge. To continue his protest, Murtari walked into the Syracuse Public Safety Building and requested to be arrested again. He was physically removed from the Public Safety Building, lead across the street, and pushed against the wall of the Onondaga County Courthouse by the two Syracuse Police officers on duty at the time. Murtari was told that if he did not leave the area, he would be arrested and written up as "a crazy" and also that if he did not leave, he would be going to jail via the hospital. Murtari, while not offering any resistance, was struck and pushed around by the police officers. A third officer arrived on the scene and took control of the incident before any further violence took place. Murtari was taken into custody and returned to the Justice Center to continue his protest.

Murtari has two goals in his protest. His immediate goal is an investigation into his lengthy divorce, where he has lost custody and significant contact with his son Domenic. He feels that, as a parent, he was treated unfairly by the judicial system. Previous letters to legislators, asking them to investigate, have been ignored. He hopes the protest will encourage the legislators to start an investigation.

The long term goal of Murtari’s protest is to have legislation enacted which will help protect a child’s right to have a relationship with both parents. He has started a group, Kids Right, dedicated to this goal. They feel that a decision restricting a child’s contact from either parent should be made by a jury, rather than solely by a Judge. More information and details on Murtari’s protest is available at the group’s website,

Murtari is a former Air Force Pilot and Cum Laude graduate of the Air Force Academy. He has a Masters in Computer Science from Syracuse University and is the president of the Software Workshop, a small Internet company he founded in 1995 located in Baldwinsville, NY. He has a long record of volunteer work with both the elderly and homeless in the Syracuse area, along with involvement in local politics.


Background :

For more information contact or call (315) 635-1968 x213 to talk to a staff member.

Mr. James Stern, a local attorney with a history of cases regarding police abuse, will be representing Mr. Murtari with regards to his assault by Syracuse Police. His office number is (315) 475-4010.