NonViolent "explosion" at Court House -- Hundreds affected!


Syracuse, New York (Dec 21, 1999) - In the last few weeks visitors and staff at the Onondaga County House saw a different kind of protester in action.  He was quiet and unassuming, well dressed, smiled at everyone (even folks who criticized him), and peacefully spent 2-4 hours each day walking inside the building. He would carry a small sign over his head with a picture of his son Domenic and the message, "I LOVE DOM.”

Mr. John Murtari, a resident of Baldwinsville (and a native of Lyons, NY), is a former Air Force Pilot and Academy Graduate who says he's going "on strike" for the sake of his 6 year old child, Domenic.  On both Nov 17th and Nov 22nd Murtari had entered the Court House in a similar manner and was quickly arrested by deputies. City Court Judge Jeffrey R. Merrill handled the matter and was reluctant to either hold Murtari in custody or issue an order blocking him from the building.  On Dec 13th  Judge Merrill dropped all the charges stating, “You don’t lose your right to free speech when you walk through the metal detectors…”

In a time where the word “protester” brings up images of violent confrontation and name calling, this approach, based on the NonViolent Action practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King – is a study in contrast.  In a time where so many people use violence against innocents in an attempt to “settle the score” or “bring attention” – it is a welcome change.  In Murtari’s words, "It is unfortunate that busy public officials and the media only seem to respond after tragic violence ... then investigations are opened and procedures are reviewed.  I reject violence, but believe non violent action may have a much better result -- I hope it’s not too long a wait for Domenic and I!"  His words may be true in practice. 

By the end of the week a lot of the staff was smiling at me and when I left on Friday I shook hands with three different deputies -- they all expressed respect for what I was trying to do and my 'method' -- I wasn't there to blame anyone or vent my anger. I felt I was among friends. My message was very clear -- I AM HERE BECAUSE I LOVE MY CHILD AND WANT TO PARTICIPATE MORE IN HIS LIFE -- who could argue with that agenda!
People are pretty good if you give them a chance.

He is currently in custody while trying a similar approach the James Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse. Mr. Murtari always refuses bail or voluntary release, plans to continue his strike effort in Syracuse  and potentially remain imprisoned until an investigation into his case can restore him as an equal parent in his child's life. "My son and I have a warm and wonderful relationship -- the long distance good byes and the counting of days till the next visit was just too much for us to bear. I never had a good answer when he’d ask, 'Daddy, why can't I be with you more?' -- it is an awful situation."  Murtari had spent three weeks in Jail during a similar protest in February of this year.  He expects this stay could last years.

Mr. Murtari is the founder of a web site,, recognized as a Human Rights groups by the editors of Yahoo.Com. Made up of both mothers & fathers, they would  like to see investigative and reform action at both the State and Federal levels.  They have proposed legislation in terms of a Federal Family Rights Act of 1999 and believe committee hearings into custody proceedings would give shocking testimony from parents unjustly deprived of meaningful contact with their children.  The solution his group recommends to this would involve giving the parent/child relationship the same Constitutional protections offered most criminals -- the Jury.

The web site highlights the philosophy and experience of both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, two great practitioners of Civil Disobedience, who both practiced a style which involved respect and love for your opponent, while demonstrating your own belief through personal Non-Violent Action.

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More info is available at:

For more information check the web site,, or contact: (there are video clips of the last protest available).

Murtari’s office can be reaches at 315-635-1968 (x-211)