Activist Parent, Veteran, Refuses Food and Water, Moved to Jail with Medical Facilities

John Murtari, divorced father to 13-year-old Domenic and founder of is on his fourth day of noncooperation while incarcerated for failure to pay child support. (Click here for background information.) Murtari is refusing food and water to protest what he says is unjust treatment of noncustodial parents.

“Our civil rights aren’t respected. Family rights need to be established and protected,” he said, “I’ve been trying to get Hillary Clinton to meet with us and to take a look at our proposed Family Rights Act, but she doesn’t seem interested.” Instead of agreeing to a meeting with local parents, Clinton asked that he be arrested for stalking. Murtari had been peacefully protesting in front of Clinton’s Syracuse office by writing in chalk on the sidewalk.

Murtari, in a call this morning from his new location, the Onondaga County Justice Center, says he understands why some people who go on hunger strikes change their minds. “This is scary stuff,” he said, “you’re alone in your cell feeling your body break down and nobody gives a hoot.” “You wonder if it’s really worth it,” he continued, “but I’m a philosophical guy and I have resolve.” This reporter can confirm that the dehydration is taking effect, his memory isn’t as sharp as usual.

He was moved to the Onondaga County Justice Center in Syracuse when officials at the Jamesville Correctional Facility realized he wasn’t backing down and might need medical care. Jamesville had one nurse and examining room, Syracuse has an entire floor with medical staff. Dehydration can lead to swelling of the brain, seizures, kidney failure, coma or death. Murtari’s blood sugar and blood pressure are being monitored. His blood sugar was 43 and his blood pressure was 90 over 60. “I don’t look forward to the feeding tube,” he stated, “I’m going to ask for one in my abdomen instead of down my throat.

It’s often assumed that Murtari quit his high-paying job after being ordered to pay child support. In fact, his leaving that job came before the divorce. Murtari, a veteran and ex-Air Force pilot, had been a highly-paid consultant for a division of Lockheed. His duties included making sure the patrol system software for submarines was adequate. He learned that not only did tests show it wasn’t working, but the company was sending false reports to the Navy. He went through normal channels within the company, but no one was willing to correct this. Murtari knew if this wasn’t corrected people would die. He felt he had no choice; he blew the whistle on them. Murtari was fired the very next day. After researching the situation, the government agreed with Murtari. Unfortunately his actions made getting a job in the same industry difficult. (The judge in his case put that fact aside and imputed his income at the highest level.) This was the second time he’d had to blow the whistle on unethical companies. At that point he decided to focus on his existing small internet company.

Murtari is not an angry radical activist, the image opponents of equal child custody laws portray of the family law reform movement. He’s a quiet, thoughtful, peaceful man. Murtari was at one time planning on being a priest. He was in pre-seminary training when he realized he just couldn’t give up the experience of having a family.

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