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Caped Crusaders Launch Direct Action Campaign
November 11, 2003
by Carey Roberts

For years, people have been predicting that the father's movement was about to explode.

That explosion finally took place on December 17, 2002.

On that day, Fathers 4 Justice launched its campaign of non-violent direct action. Two hundred men dressed in Santa Claus suits vowing to "Save Father Christmas" raided the offices of the Lord Chancellor's Department in London.

Then on Valentine's Day, fathers dressed up as Elvis Presley and paid a visit to the London family courts, dubbed the "Heartbreak Hotel." Their aim was to present a 20 foot high inflatable heart to Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the odious Family Division.

May 22 saw Plymouth County Court closed for an hour as two F4J members staged a roof-top protest wearing Tony Blair masks. The pair toted a giant banner that named Plymouth as the UK's Worst Family Court.

In observance of Father's Day, 50 fathers, mothers and grandparents kicked off its Summer of Discontent campaign by occupying the Family Division of the High Court on June 13.

Six weeks later, 50 fathers and mothers dressed up in chemical decontamination suits, sounded an air-raid siren, and closed off the street surrounding the home of David Burrows, chair of a leading lawyers' family law association.

Along the way, actor Pierce Brosnan and singer Bob Geldof joined in the struggle for divorced fathers to gain equal access to their children. Geldof, who had recently gone through a nasty custody battle, lamented that unjust family laws are creating "vast wells of misery, massive discontent, [and] an unstable society of feral children."

Three weeks ago, on October 22, hundreds of men, women and chilren marched through the streets of London to protest unfair policies of the family courts. As the group reached the end of their march, they discovered, to their considerable delight, two men dressed as Batman and Robin atop the Royal Courts of Justice, where the family law courts daily hand down their one-sided opinions.

Then David Chick got fed up when his ex-partner blocked him from seeing his daughter for 8 months. So two weeks ago, he donned a Spiderman outfit and scaled a 120-foot crane by the historic Tower Bridge. For five days, London traffic ground to a standstill when police blockaded the area.

Revealing the dismissive attitude that officials reserve for fathers, London mayor Ken Livingstone commented that Mr. Chick "is amply demonstrating that women do not feel they always want their partner to have access to their children".

But many were to sympathetic to Chick's plight. Columnist Melanie Phillips decried the "manifold injustices" that are driving fathers over the edge.

Over 225 years ago, American colonialists overcome a subservient mentality, organized their resistance, and defeated the British tyranny. In 2003, fathers around the world face a new oppression. This tyranny cloaks its actions with the high-minded phrase "best interests of the child" -- which in practice really means "sole interests of the mother."

So stay tuned. Because on October 20, Fathers 4 Justice issued an 40-day Ultimatum to the family courts: "enforce the right of children to have a meaningful, loving relationship with both parents," or "face a dramatic escalation in our campaign."

Judges, take note -- that ultimatum expires on November 30.

These fathers care deeply about their children. They will not pass away quietly into the night.

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