HAMILTON – A fathers’ rights group picketed a restaurant that is displaying pictures on its pizza boxes of men who are seriously in arrears on paying their child support.
Members of Fathers-4-Justice, a nonprofit volunteer group fighting for “truth, justice and equality in family law,” stood outside Karen’s Pizzeria on Eaton Avenue for hours dressed in camouflage pants and bright purple T-shirts, waving posters and banners stating “Kids need both parents. Families now. Reform now.”
The business began placing posters from the Butler County Child Support Enforcement Agency depicting “deadbeat dads” on its delivery boxes in August. The agency said the effort has let to the arrest of at least one man who owed $21,200 in child support.
Karen Willis, owner of the business, said she doesn’t plan to discontinue the promotion.
“I think the children need the support,” she said.
John Fowler, a member of Fathers-4-Justice, said that before the protest began, he asked Willis to remove the posters featuring the delinquent dads from her restaurant’s boxes.
She declined and about a half dozen people started waving signs about 11 a.m. and urging passersby, with the assistance of a bull horn, to eat elsewhere.
“I said no, absolutely not,” Willis said, when asked what she told the protesters who urged the removal of the posters. “They don’t scare me.”
Fowler, a Columbus resident, said the group is protesting the way fathers are portrayed in the posters as well as in the court system, where he believes fathers are rarely granted equal custody.
“We need a change in the legal system that insures 50/50 parenting,” Willis said, adding that when fathers are active and involved in their children’s lives, they are more likely to meet support obligations in full and on time.
Fowler said the children are often the ones hurt the most by enforcement tactics such as the pizza box posters. “Can you imagine how the children feel seeing their father’s picture and how they are treated at school when their friends see it?”
Carol Wintz, a single mother from Delaware, Ohio, was one of the few women protestors Friday.
“Fathers are more than just an ATM machine,” she said. “And as long as the legal system continues to treat them as just a source of money and not an equal parent, there will be problems.”
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