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Running Down the Walls 2016 – A Reportback

all_cats_are_beautifulRunning Down the Walls (RDTW) 2016 was a success in building relationships, feeling the solidarity of running as our imprisoned comrades did the same, and raising funds for the ABCF Warchest and the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP is a collective Alternative to Detention (ATD), detention center visitation, direct service, and community organizing project that works with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Two Spirit, Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and HIV+ detainees and their families currently in detention centers, those that are recently released from detention centers, and undocumented folks in New York City).

The fear factory National Weather Service gave us pause and we considered rescheduling this year’s event with tropical storm Hermine looming just off the coast. As it turned out, we had no floods, no rain, no high winds, just perfect weather for running. Crisis averted!

We arrived early, to avoid getting beaten to a sweet spot in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, by the gaggle of goofs clawing to get to a food circus we refuse to name. This gave us time to set up our hand-painted RDTW banner and tables of literature & food. The aforementioned mall food court for the self-perceived well-heeled was dropped squarely in the middle of our run path last year, so we switched it up on ’em. This year, our 5k was more like 5.2k (sorry, distance nerds) and consisted of a single lap around what is known as the Main Loop.

Given that this was also a picnic—outdoors, breezy, and mildly unpredictable, we set up a scaled down version of our literature table. This meant our ubiquitous red wire rack of free literature, including copies of the recently published Conditions of Confinement (writings by anarchist prisoner Casey Brezik), the NYC ABC Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoner and Prisoners of War, and all of the tri-fold pamphlets about many of the prisoners we support.

We had printed bib numbers for the participants. The flipside of the bib numbers had information about NYC ABC and guidelines for writing to prisoners, making it both a memento and a useful reminder to write to folks.

A few serious runners arrived as early as 1:30pm, though the announced time of the event was 2:00-7:00pm and we typically use the first half hour to register folks and take sponsor forms from those who hustled to get sponsors. Even with this schedule in mind, anarchist time prevailed and the run actually started closer to 2:45, following a group photo around the RDTW banner.

Before the run, an NYC ABC collective member went over some basics, while also kicking facts about political prisoners and state repression. We then played a greeting from Jaan Laaman, recorded specifically for the event.

Of the 60-70 folks who came to RDTW 2016, about 45 participated in the 5(.2)k. The age range was 4-72 years old. Hashtag multi-generational. Several runners were serious, several were fast, and the venn diagram of those two categories resulted in the same few folks running the fastest laps this year as last.

After running, bronchial passages fully dilated, what sounds better than a plate of barbecue and potato salad?

The picnic consisted of Texas-style barbecued jackfruit sandwiches with fresh pickles; potato salad; a variety of chips & cold drinks; and some outstanding cranberry blondies. Yes, a lot of folks came just for the food.

Before we got too deep into socializing, we read solidarity statements written for the event by Bill Dunne, Kojo Bomani Sababu, Hanif Bey, and Xinachtli.

One participant garnered over $1,000 in sponsors, and several others raised hundreds of dollars each. All told, we raised a respectable amount of loot.

Folks sitting around, talking, having just shared the run, felt good. The group consisted of folks from diverse backgrounds, many of whom were new faces to our collective. Instagram followers brought IRL friends, and comrades & allies turned up as well. Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP), NYC Jericho Movement, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, Family and Friends of Maliki Shakur Latine, the campaign the Bring Mumia Home, Marius Mason’s support crew, the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar, and the campaign to Free the MOVE 9 prisoners were among the represented organizations that explicitly work on political prisoner support. There were also folks from NYC Animal Defense League, the NYC Anarchist Book Fair, Black and Pink NYC, Rojava Solidarity NYC, Incarcerated Worker Organizing Committee NYC (IWOC), WESPAC, and Books Through Bars, among others. We were also thankful for the presence of Sekou Odinga and Susan Rosenberg, former political prisoners and consistent examples of solidarity through action.

Most folks had left by 6:30 and those who stayed did so to help clean up and transfer everything to the cars. So the event went as scheduled, almost to the minute.

Knowing the history of the run and the imprisoned comrades with whom we ran in solidarity elevated Running Down the Walls 2016 to an even more inspiring level.

And that’s how we get down (the walls).

NYC ABC

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BK/NY – Tuesday, April 28 – May Day Card-signing for Anarchist Prisoners

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
WHERE: The Base1302 Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11221 (directions below)

NOTE: The Base is on the ground floor, is wheelchair accessible, and has a gender neutral toilet.
COST: Free
mayday2015NYC ABC has been busier than usual. For some, that might seem hard to imagine. However, between hosting a packed-house event with CrimethInc at The Base and the NYC Anarchist Book Fair the following day, it’s been an assiduous couple of weeks. And as we look forward, May Day is just around the corner. So, in honor of the Haymarket Martyrs, and anarchists imprisoned for their beliefs and actions, we focus this week’s letter-writing dinner on them. Instead of writing letters, this week we will be asking folks to come sign cards for the thirteen anarchist political prisoners we currently support. There will be plenty of time for eating food, socializing, and scheming to bring about a world in which we want to live.

If there’s absolutely no way you can come eat a ton of food and sign a lot of May Day cards, but still want to support political prisoners, please consider sending some books from their wish lists.

Read more…

NYC – Tuesday, May 27th – Letter-writing to Cecily McMillan

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
WHERE: CAGE83A Hester Street (UPSTAIRS) New York, New York 10002 (directions below)
COST: Free
Cecily McMillan outside courtIt’s been a busy couple of weeks for NYC ABC. Our comrade Jerry Koch participated in his first post-prison public speaking event, a panel coordinated with the 2014 NYC Anarchist Book Fair. Speaking of, we also tabled the Book Fair (this year with 80% less drama!) and were able to reconnect with old friends and talk with a host of new folks. In the same time period, we also reached our goal in the release fund for antifa political prisoner Cody Lee Sutherlin of the Tinley Park Five.

And then there’s the bad news.

Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist who was assaulted by the NYPD, yet convicted herself of assault in a miscarriage of justice, was sentenced to three months in jail and five years probation.

So that lands us where we are, doing what we do. In solidarity with Cecily, and to let her know the breadth of support she enjoys, we focus our next Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner on her. We will have a special guest speaker, Lucy Parks from Cecily’s support crew, so this event is not to be missed.

If for some nutty reason you can’t make it out, but still want to support Cecily (or send her a book), you can write to her at:
Cecily McMillan
Book & Case Number 3101400431
Rose M. Singer Center
19-19 Hazen Street
East Elmhurst, New York 11370

For more information, be sure to visit the justiceforcecily.com
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Anarchist Book Fair Event – Prisoners Are Speaking: Are We Listening?

WHAT: Panel discussion on recent political prisoner writings
WHEN: 7:00pm, Saturday, April 6th
WHERE: Bluestockings Books – 172 Allen Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
COST: $5, suggested donation

NYC Anarchist Black Cross, PM Press, and Resistance in Brooklyn present . . .

Prisoners Are Speaking: Are We Listening?

Whether in the medium of books or in other writing, letters, artwork, or through deeds themselves, prisoners in resistance are speaking out. Some are political prisoners and/or prisoners of war imprisoned for their political actions in social movements, including traditions of anti-imperialist national liberation; others are survivors of white supremacist capitalist mass incarceration and state control politicized by experience and solidarity.

They speak out against the prison system, against special control units and solitary confinement, against political imprisonment and political retribution. They act and speak to incite, to inspire, to leave movement legacies behind. Some speak out against oppression, silence, invisibility, and oblivion. Some speak to exist. They call out for solidarity in and outside of the walls.

For those of us who are not incarcerated: Are we reading? Are we listening? Are we hearing them? Are prisoner voices truly finding the eyes, ears, and hearts of anarchists and others on the outside in minimum custody? Are we responding? Are we carrying forward the visions we share?

An NYC Anarchist Bookfair discussion of

Maroon the Implacable: the collected writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz, Edited by Fred Ho and Quincy Saul
Oscar Lopez Rivera: Between Torture and Resistance, Edited by Luis Nieves Falcon
We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America, by Matt Meyer

Featuring panelists . .

Marina Ortiz
has drawn from her background as a stateside ghetto Rican to craft a versatile body of work that includes broadcast and print media, direct action, spoken word and other forms of cultural and political expression that call for social justice and liberation.

Russell Maroon Shoatz III 
Son of political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz who along with his sisters advocates for his father and for all political prisoners and prisoners of war.

And featuring facilitation and introductions by Matt Meyer, Author of books such as We Have Not Been Moved and more, Editor of Let Freedom Ring and more, and long-time writer and organizer for anti-imperialist, anti-military, and pro-political-prisoner movements.

Endorsed by:
Bluestockings Prisoner Letter Writing Group, Hell Gate Anarchist Black Cross, Machetero-Movie.com, #nothingtobegainedhere, NYC Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz, S. Brooklyn ABCF,  ThroughtheWalls.org