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Charges dropped against alleged protest leaders

The Associated Press
Thursday November 16, 2000

PHILADELPHIA — A prominent activist said he felt vindicated after prosecutors dropped charges against him for allegedly leading hundreds of demonstrators on a night of mayhem during the Republican National Convention. 

“We said all along that these charges were fraudulent,” said John Sellers, 34, director of the Berkeley-based Ruckus Society. “The city was pursuing us to silence our dissent rather than because of the activities we were engaged in.” 

Prosecutor Elizabeth Greenfield said Tuesday there was insufficient evidence to prove the case against Sellers, who initially had been held on $1 million bail and had faced 14 misdemeanor counts. His trial was to have begun Tuesday. 

Police said Sellers helped coordinate demonstrators in clashes with police and several street-blocking demonstrations on Aug. 1. A second protest leader, Terrence McGuckin, 19, of the Philadelphia Direct Action Group, was found guilty of disorderly conduct and disrupting a highway and received three months’ probation. 

“I would have liked to have seen a little more, but I think the judge was fair in her disposition of the case,” prosecutor David E. Desiderio said. 


David Rudovsky, an attorney for McGuckin, said his client was “innocent 100 percent” and planned an appeal. 

Police Commissioner John F. Timoney and Deputy Commissioner Robert Mitchell both were out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday. 

Nearly 400 people were arrested in the demonstrations during the GOP convention. About 20 people remain charged with felonies, including three people due in court Thursday on charges they attacked Timoney while the chief was on bicycle patrol. 

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