kidsnav.gif (4714 bytes)

Contact Us

January 11, 2002

Judge Rosenthal
Syracuse City Court

Dear Judge Rosenthal and the District Attorney's Office:

I was arraigned by you on Wednesday, January 9th, as a consequence of my actions in the Syracuse Federal Building the day before. There seemed to be a lot of confusion about what was going on and the history of my actions. I heard myself described as someone involved in "civil disobedience" and I was greatly disturbed upon later speaking to my attorney to find the City Police arrest report described my behavior as "violent" - which is a terrible misrepresentation. I wish to take a brief moment to make you aware of what is going on and why.

I was at the building that day in what I can attempt to describe as an exercise in free speech and also to petition my government representatives (specifically Senator Schumer and Senator Clinton) for action on Family Law reform. Without going into details, the attached letters show numerous attempts by members of our Group (AKidsRight.Org) to simply engage our elected representatives in a dialog regarding the need for reform - so far they have refused to make even the simplest written reply. This is unfortunate and is the reason for me "walking" outside their offices.

We are a group of Mothers and Fathers who believe positive change can happen without the need for anger or name calling. That significant social change can be made by people willing to use NonViolent Action, as most recently demonstrated by King and Gandhi. To show by the power of their actions and their willingness to accept personal sacrifice - that they deeply believe in both a loving God and the "rightness" of their goals.

When I am in the Federal Building I do not disturb any type of building operation or access. I do not chant or even make gestures. I do not speak unless spoken to. I just walk quietly in the hall carrying some picture of parents and children unjustly separated. Sometimes people will approach me and ask me what is going on - then I will stop and explain. Our hope is that our actions, along with public attention and publicity will eventually show the Senators that we are sincere and that this is a very serious public issue. We know the Senators are good people and considered about family issues.

At the beginning of 2000 I had over a dozen charges pending for this conduct at both the State and Federal Level. All the State charges were dismissed by Judge Higgins, all the Federal Tickets were dismissed by a US Magistrate. I spoke personally with the assistant US Attorney in charge of the case, Mr. Michael Olmstead, and he also appreciated the unique nature of my actions and told me I had a right to petition my government. Since then, on many occasions I have been allowed to proceed with no arrest. Most recently, on January 7th, Judge Higgins again dismissed three recent arrests alleging "trespass." I returned to the building the next day and went to the 8th floor (where Senator Schumer's offices are located) and was told by Federal Police that I would be charged by them for violating building rules (similar to tickets which had been earlier dismissed) and taken down stairs. Two city police then arrived. At that moment I was in the "custody" of the Federal Police Officers and sitting with them in their first floor office.

One of the Syracuse City Police officers then told me the Federal Police officers were going to present me with their tickets. He would then ask me to leave the building. If I did not leave the building, he would arrest me for "Disorderly Conduct." He told me to leave the building as I was still sitting in their chair. I told him I wanted to return upstairs. They then put hand cuffs on me and brought me to the Jail. There was no violence, not even any loud talk….I did not resist their arrest. There were plenty of witnesses from both Building Security and the Federal Police.

When we were waiting outside the Jail one of the Syracuse City Police officers said he was going to go back to the office to write the arrest report while I was waiting to be admitted to the jail. I have to believe that the words about "violent" conduct on my part were added to the report at that time. Perhaps he discovered that Disorderly Conduct would not apply to a person quietly sitting in a chair and just refusing to leave a public building?

In any case, Judge Rosenthal and the District Attorney, I am concerned that such a serious allegation would be made by an officer of the "law" and obviously one that could have such serious consequences for me personally. I have an 8 year old son and an 85 year old mother I am responsible for. While I appreciate the risk and sacrifice involved in my attempts to petition government - I certainly do not need imaginary offenses added.

I would appreciate your prompt action in this matter and also your understanding as these events continue to unfold.

Respectfully yours,

John Murtari 
· Letter to Members of Congress (Jan 4, 2002)
· Letter to Members of Congress (Oct 15, 2002)
· Witness list for Congress