First there was the Million Dollar Man. Now there's the Million Dollar Activist.
John Sellers, founder of California-based direct-action group the Ruckus Society, was arrested for demonstrating against the Republican National Convention last week in Philadelphia and slapped with $1 million bail.
"It's outlandish," says Susan Whitaker, a media rep for R2K, an activist coalition that came together for the convention. "It's the highest bail set for misdemeanours ever."
"We believe that it's inappropriate and excessive and it certainly looks like an attempt to quash political dissent," says American Civil Liberties Union Pennsylvania director Larry Frankel. "This amount of bail is more appropriate for people who have committed serious violent crimes."
Kate Sorstein, a leading member of ACT UP Philadelphia, also had a million-dollar price tag put on her head, but she, unlike Sellers, was charged with felonies.
Kathie Abookire of the Philadelphia district attorney's office says it wasn't just the misdemeanours that got Sellers into the million-dollar club.
"He is a self-proclaimed leader of protest groups. And he's from Berkeley, so his risk of flight was immense."
But reason prevailed, and a judge knocked Sellers' bail down to a mere $100,000. He was released Wednesday. LR