Director, Ruckus Society; organizer, Direct Action Network; former Direct Action Team Leader, Greenpeace USA; long-time boyfriend of Ruckus trainer Genevieve RaymondMother Jones magazine has described John Sellers as “a career thorn in the side of the establishment.” While that career has been a short one (he’s only in his mid-30s), Sellers has quickly become one of the most effective – and feared – protest organizers in the United States.
Through his work with Greenpeace and the Direct Action Network, Sellers is a visible force in the anti-consumer “protest industry.” Prior to the 1999 Seattle WTO riots, he met with members of nearly every organization whose rabble-rousers were later present in the organized protests. This included his friends at Global Exchange, Essential Information, Public Citizen, Rainforest Action Network, and a whole host of organized labor unions.
Sellers first became “radicalized” during a 1990 trip to visit an uncle who lives in Australia. This particular uncle happened to run an oil refinery, and Sellers ended up siding with a group of environmentalists who were busy plugging the refinery’s discharge pipes. A year later, he moved to Washington, DC, and became a canvasser for Greenpeace. Sellers joined Ruckus less than a year after it was founded, attending its very first action camp.
When John Sellers isn’t busy training younger activists on the best ways to chain themselves to buildings and behave menacingly toward law enforcement, he’s often planning his own “direct actions.” These have included physical blockades, property destruction, and the hanging of massive protest banners in hard-to-reach places (the sides of buildings and ceilings of shopping malls seem to be favorites). Sellers was also acknowledged by Philadelphia’s finest as a “ringleader” behind the massive and violent protests outside the 2000 Republican National Convention. Philly police considered him such a threat to public safety that he was held on a $1 million bond after his arrest there.