Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Thu, 3 Aug 2000
Bob Lederer <bobl@...
KEEP MAKING YOUR CALLS TO CITY OFFICIALS!
LET'S GET OUR COURAGEOUS FRIENDS OUT OF THEIR DUNGEONS!
4 stories: The repression and demonization heightens....
August 3, 2000 5 p.m.
John Sellers' Bail Set at $1 million
Submitted by Josie Foo
Saying that he believed John Sellers, the director of Ruckus Society,
presents a risk to the community at large, to police officers, and to the
citizens of Philadelphia, bail commissioner Jim O'Brien set bail at $1
Sellers, who was arrested empty-handed while walking down a street outside
the Police Administration building, is charged with conspiracy, possession
of an instrument of crime, reckless endangerment, and a litany of
The district attorney, Cindy Mertelli, asked for the million dollar bond.
She characterized Sellers as a menace with a multi-state arrest record,
although she was unable to be specific about those arrests. Sellers, she
said, had "contacts in Florida where (Ruckus') training camp is, preparing
for mayhem and violence."
She produced a 27 page "dossier" on Sellers listing Sellers' fundraising
activities and called him an "immense" risk of flight and a real risk of
danger to the community, in light of the large amounts of money he has
access to and his contacts throughout the states."
She said that Sellers had made provocative statements in some newspaper
articles and had been "involved in Seattle, a situation with almost dead
Although none of the charges levied at Sellers are for violence, she said
that Sellers "sets the stage to facilitate the more radical elements and
intends to do the same in L.A."
Sellers, speaking from his cell at a police precinct via television hookup
to the court, said he was a person of conscience whose prior arrests have
been for non-violent action, and that he has never
shirked court dates.
He said the few articles cited by Mertelli was disnigenuous, and he could
cite numerous articles, in the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and
others, about Ruckus conducting its non-violent direct action
training camp in Arcadia, Florida.
He said, "We are an incredibly transparent group, we even gave the police
our website. We have nothing to hide."
"Even my parents," he said," are proud of me."
Sellers' attorney, Lawrence Krasner, also addressed the bail hearing by
phone. He called the district attorney's statement nothing more than a
"political diatribe" that misunderstood the nature of non-violent civil
disobedience. He asked O'Brien not to allow Mertelli to politicize the
process and to set bail within the guidelines.
Krasner said that Mertelli's comments were "outrageous." All Sellers had
allegedly done, he said, was hand a banner from a crane. He had not worn a
mask, and had not kicked in any windows."
He said Sellers was "a national figure that should be given reasonable bail
as there is no indication he will not show up."
Mertelli pointed out that Ruckus' website mentioned some instances of
violence, at which Krasner replied that Martin Luther King Jr. often
mentioned violent episodes involving dogs biting humans, at which a
surreal exchange ensued between Krasner, O'Brien, and Mertelli.
O'Brien, obviously partisan, argued that news groups like NBC do not
participate in the violence they cover, and he asked Mertelli to confirm
that no news groups had been arrested. Mertelli readily
O'Brien admitted that in his 10 years of serving as a bail commissioner, he
had never been asked to set bail for arrests of civil disobedience and
hoped he never would again. He then set bail at $1 million, saying, "I
believe that the close co-ordination of all events and their close timing
indicates a synchronization" of incidents, and that Sellers "presents a
risk to the community at large, to police officers, and to Philadelphia's
Krasner then asked that the public defender, Bill Deeley, be appointed to
appeal the bail to the emergency judge, but his request was denied on the
basis that there are "probably" other defendents arrested on the same
charge, although there were no co-defenders listed on the same arrest (DC)
number. Krasner then tried to waive any conflict, but O'Brien refused to
Throughout the hearing, Sellers leaned on his hand and appeared at times
intently listening, and at other times distraught.
Krasner said he would come in personally to appeal the bail and O'Brien
said that, although his own shift ended at 3:30 p.m., he would be present
to make his own argument to the emergency judge.
At 4:50 p.m., following argument, the emergency judge affirmed the $1
million bail. At 5:10 p.m. news sources including CBS News was reporting
that the police had pinpointed the "ringleaders" of August 1 indicents and
had been stalking them throughout the day. John Sellers was identified as
one of the ringleaders that were stalked.
Ruckus Society is holding a press conference at 7 p.m. at the William Way
Center at 1315 Spruce Street, at 7 p.m. today (August 3, 2000).
Thursday August 3 3:37 PM ET
Police Chief Wants Feds to Investigate Protest Movement
By David Morgan
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia's police chief said on Thursday
federal authorities should investigate a coalition of activist groups that
have targeted two political conventions, the World Trade Organization and
the World Bank for mass protests.
At the same time, defense lawyers for hundreds of protesters jailed this
week in Philadelphia claimed that city officials were keeping their clients
behind bars illegally by setting bail at exorbitant levels for relatively
On Tuesday, thousands of protesters tried but failed to bring the host city
of the Republican National Convention to a standstill by blocking
intersections in several spots downtown during their only act of mass civil
Police won accolades from city leaders for thwarting the demonstrations and
making hundreds of arrests without provoking the violence seen last year
during the WTO meeting in Seattle.
Protesters appeared to have called off ``direct action'' campaigns planned
for Wednesday and Thursday, saying they would instead concentrate on
solidarity rallies for jailed comrades.
Police Commissioner John Timoney said the groups that organized the Seattle
protests and demonstrations outside the World Bank in Washington last April
were responsible for sporadic scenes of violence in Philadelphia.
Planned For Los Angeles
A similar coalition plans to demonstrate later this month in Los Angeles
during the Democratic National Convention.
``I intend on raising this issue with federal authorities,'' he told
reporters at a news conference without naming specific organizations.
``Somebody's got to look into these groups,'' he said. ``I don't think you
should have people out there who are going to hang around and plan to come
into a different city time after time to assault police officers, engage in
serious property damage and destruction. That ain't cricket.''
Fifteen Philadelphia officers were injured on Tuesday in scuffles with
protesters. More than 20 police cruisers were vandalized by marauding bands
who also overturned dumpsters, smashed windows and sprayed graffiti on
All told, 369 people were arrested, including 19 who were charged with
felony offenses including assault.
Among those in custody were several alleged protest leaders, including the
head of the Ruckus Society, a Berkeley, California-based group that trains
activists in nonviolent civil disobedience.
``We know they had a list of things they were going to do, and they set
about doing it. That, to me, is kind of troubling,'' said Timoney, who
deflected claims that some protest leaders were arrested while walking the
street with cellular phones.
``I've been assured that we have probable cause to make those arrests,'' he
said. ``There are no preemptive strikes. We're locking people up who we
think we can prove were engaged in criminal activity.''
Lawyers Have Different Version
Civil rights lawyers had a different version of events.
``What we are seeing in Philadelphia is a civil rights catastrophe of the
first order,'' said New York-based civil rights attorney Ron McGuire.
He said the city was imposing bail of more than $15,000 in cases that
would ordinarily merit only a couple hundred dollars, in an apparent bid to
keep protesters in jail until after the Republican convention had ended.
``I cannot imagine a reason for these levels other than deliberate and
unconstitutional detention,'' McGuire said.
Police confirmed bail had been set at $50,000 for one suspect charged with
The American Civil Liberties Union also expressed concern about conspiracy
charges brought against 80 people found in a West Philadelphia warehouse
that police raided on Tuesday, saying it contained material which could
make crowd control more difficult and more dangerous.
``The charges are questionable. What we have basically are people who were
in the wrong place at the wrong time,'' said Larry Frankel, executive
director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. ''We have a lot of concerns here about
situations that might be called preemptive.''
Many jailed protesters were refusing to give police their names or
personal details in an act of jail solidarity. Protest organizers also said
140 had joined a hunger strike to protest conditions. Organizers also held
a news conference with protesters who claimed to have suffered police
brutality while behind bars.
Thursday August 3 1:00 AM ET
Tensions Cool in Philadelphia Streets
By Andy Sullivan
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Protests on the fringes of the Republican National
Convention turned peaceful as the city recovered from Tuesday's clashes
that tied up traffic across downtown and led to hundreds of arrests.
Police said they arrested 50 people on Wednesday, adding few details except
to say the arrests were scattered across various locations through the city
of about 1.4 million people. The police said there were 290 arrests on
Tuesday, down from their earlier estimate of about 350.
On Wednesday, about 400 activists in a park across from the city jail
demanded the release of those in police custody, while demonstrators
picketed a downtown bank and a gathering of anti-abortion Republicans. A
separate march called for women's rights.
The subdued tone of the day's events contrasted with that of Tuesday, when
activists blocked downtown intersections, injuring at least 15 police
officers and vandalizing 28 police and city vehicles.
Police largely succeeded in keeping the situation from becoming as chaotic
as that seen at trade talks in Seattle last year when protesters brought
that city to a standstill.
``They were folks who came here hell-bent on causing disruption,'' Police
Commissioner John Timoney said. ``The Philadelphia Police Department is in
control of the situation. Make no mistake about that.''
Most arrested were not cooperating with police and did not give their names
-- something likely to keep them behind bars until after the convention
ends on Thursday, Timoney said.
An activist with the organization that planned much of the civil
disobedience said police arrested many of the organization's key members
early on Tuesday before they took to the streets, contributing to the day's
``We did everything within our power to organize a day of nonviolence, and
what happened instead was that our organizers and our peacekeepers were
taken off the streets,'' said Amy Kwasnicki with the Philadelphia Direct
Some activists picketed outside Citigroup on Wednesday morning, calling it
the world's most destructive bank. John Sellers, head of the Ruckus
Society, a group that schools activists in the art of civil disobedience,
was arrested at that event. Police had no immediate comment on his arrest,
while supporters said he was only observing the peaceful event.
Marpessa Kupendua <nattyreb@...
Tuesday, August 01, 2000
MOVE Member Arrested At Protest
"JUST BECAUSE IT'S LEGAL DON'T MAKE IT RIGHT"
end quote JOHN AFRICA
In a day dedicated to protesting the so-called "justice system" over 200
protesters were arrested, some were actively participating in civil
disobedience while others were targeted and arrested for doing nothing more
than speaking out.
Mike Africa Jr. was one of those targeted. While at the large protest for
Mumia Abu-Jamal today at Philadelphia's city hall, Africa along with a number
of others were swept up when police attacked the demonstrators. Later on
this evening Mike was released after authorities were confronted by other
MOVE members. Many others arrested are still in custody at Holmsberg
prison outside of Philadelphia.
Mike Africa's arrest shows once again the pattern of harrasment that this
system has used in order to attempt to intimidate MOVE members. The very
same rotten system that locked up Mike today is the same one that locked up
both his parents and seven other MOVE members on Aug 8th 1978. It is the
same system that framed Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981, and that bombed innocent
MOVE men, women, and children on May 13th 1985.
All people need to speak out against this flagrant injustice. Demand freedom
for Mumia, the MOVE 9, Leonard Peltier, all political prisoners, and for
those arrested while protesting the Republican convention here in
"REVOLUTION IS DOIN IT OR IT AINT GETTIN DONE"
end quote JOHN AFRICA
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