Running 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).
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.
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).
WHAT: Running Down the Walls – 5k Run/Walk/Jog/Bike
WHEN: 2:00-7:00pm, Sunday, September 4th
WHERE: Prospect Park– Lincoln Road/East Lake Drive, east of the Terrace Bridge (see the below map for exact location)
COST: $10 registration (includes food and drinks afterwards)
Every year, prisoners and supporters of political prisoners organize solidarity events with Running Down the Walls. In the last few years, we’ve had runs in Albuquerque (NM), Arcata (CA), Ashland (OR), Bellefonte (PA), Boston (MA), Denver (CO), Elmore (AL), Inez (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Marion (IL), New York (NY), USP Navosta (TX), Pelican Bay (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Tucson (AZ), and Toronto, Ontario. This year we hope to expand the amount of runs in prisons and other cities, as well as increase the amount of funds raised for community projects. NYC ABC‘s goal with this year’s run is $3,000. You can donate online by going to gumroad.com/nycabc
This year’s run will take place on Sunday, September 4th at 2:00pm in solidarity and conjunction with runs that will take place in cities and prison yards across the country at the same time.
REGISTER AS, OR SPONSOR, A PARTICIPANT
To raise our goal of $3,000, we need your support.
* Run/walk/bike/roll in the 5k – We need participants who can run/walk/bike/roll the 5k and are able to collect financial pledges to offer as donations to the run. Download the brochure, complete with registration and sponsor form right here.
* Volunteer for the run – We need folks who are willing to staff a registration/literature table, hand out water, bike the route as street medics, and help chalk the route beforehand.
* Donate online at gumroad.com/nycabc
* Donate to the run/sponsor a participant – If you are not able to attend, but want to support this fundraising effort, please mail donations to:
Post Office Box 110034
Brooklyn, New York 11211
Your donation of $10 or more entitles you to the celebratory picnic after the event.
The Warchest Program:
The Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF) has initiated a program designed to send monthly checks to those Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have been receiving insufficient, little, or no financial support during their imprisonment. The Warchest program was initiated in November 1994. Its purpose is to collect monthly funds from groups and individual supporters, and send that money to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POW) via monthly checks. Over the last two decades, the ABCF warchest has dispensed over $75,000 to political prisoners in the United States. Currently, there are ten imprisoned comrades who receive a monthly stipend as part of the program; they are:
Xinachtli (FKA Alvaro Luna Hernandez)
Robert Seth Hayes
Maliki Shakur Latine
For more information, visit: abcf.net/warchest-program
Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP):
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. For more information, visit qdep.org
We’ll be starting here:
The event will be one lap around what is known as the Main Loop, and will total five kilometers. For the curious, here’s what it looks like:
Of course, if you have any questions, e-mail us at nycabc at riseup dot net
NYC Black & Pink, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, and NYC Anarchist Black Cross invite you to a special letter writing event. More about the International Day of Solidarity with Trans Prisoners below!
There will be drinks and snacks available for sale through Bluestockings. We’ll also have more info on ways that you can start find an LGBTQ prisoner pen-pal if you want.
What can you bring?
Writing materials! Stamps if you want! We can always use more postage!
Looking forward to seeing you there! Read more…