Running Down the Walls (RDTW) 2015 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 Family and Friends of Maliki Shakur Latine (Maliki is a New York state held political prisoner whose support crew is currently raising funds for his parole campaign). We arrived early, to avoid getting beaten to a sweet spot in Prospect Park (Brooklyn), which gave us time to set up our hand-painted RDTW banner, tables of literature and food, and mark turns along the route of the run. The route is commonly known as “The Inner Loop” by local runners and two laps around equals almost exactly 3.1 miles, or 5 kilometers.
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 Battle Tested, After Prison, 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 also sold our ASL All Cops Are Bastards (ACAB) t-shirts.
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. Jaan recommended we dedicate RDTW 2015 to the memory of our fallen comrade Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell. As a special treat, Dequi Kioni-Sadiki started the race with the drop of a red bandana.
At this point, it’s impossible to write about the event without mentioning that squarely in the middle of the Inner Loop, our run path, sat the inaugural installation of a foodie event that shall not be named. Our participants had to run through a sea of yuppies, starving for local micro-butchery, artisanal ice cubes, and whatever other contrived bullshit passes for authenticity to the ruling class. On the upside, this drove a lot of folks to our literature table and put us in the position to talk to individuals who would likely never otherwise approach us. Of course anarchists won’t be happy until the last capitalist is hung with the guts of the last bacon-infused mustache wax-wearing yuccie, but until then it was good practice to talk to strangers about our political prisoners. A fair number of park guests stopped at the table to get information about the prisoners, Running Down the Walls, and NYC ABC.
Of the 60-70 folks who came to RDTW 2015, about 45 participated in the 5k. The age range was 3-71 years old. Hashtag multi-generational. Several runners were serious, several were fast, and the venn diagram of those two categories resulted in the same person running the fastest laps this year as last.
After running, bronchial passages fully dilated, through clouds of meat smoke and whatever cologne investment bankers wear, what sounds better than a plate of barbecue and potato salad? Chorizo tofu empanadas? You’re right.
The picnic consisted of Texas style barbecued jackfruit sandwiches with fresh pickles; potato salad; pasta salad; empanadas; chocolate-coconut cream layer cake; and plum-peach lemon almond polenta cake. Yes, a lot of folks came just for the food.
Before we got too deep into socializing, we read a statement written for the event by Maliki Shakur Latine, and then gave prizes. Oh yeah, RDTW had prizes this year. Friends from AK Press and Combustion Books donated prizes that were given for the three folks who raised the most money in sponsorships as well as for the person who made the single largest donation at the event. We also had a laser cut acrylic “ACAB” plaque for the runner who completed the 5k in the least amount of time.
One participant garnered over $1,300 in sponsors, and several others raised hundreds of dollars each. All told, between the event and what was sold through our table, 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. Twitter followers brought IRL friends and comrades & allies turned up as well. South Brooklyn ABCF, 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, and the campaign the Free the MOVE 9 prisoners were among the represented organizations that explicitly work on political prisoner support. We were also thankful for the presence of Sekou Odinga, former political prisoner and consistent example 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 2015 to an even more inspiring level.
And that’s how we get down (the walls).
WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
WHERE: The Base – 1302 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.
Hopefully you’ve been training in preparation for Running Down the Walls 2015. The competition will be fierce, the food at the after party will be delicious, and the solidarity with our imprisoned comrades will be infinite. Please take this opportunity to get more folks to sponsor you as a participant and help build the ABCF warchest and help the Family and Friends of Maliki Shakur Latine. As a lead in to this year’s run, we are hosting another of our every other week Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinners. This week, NYC ABC will be hosting a Black August card signing.
As Black August began in remembrance of fallen Black liberation prisoner, George Jackson, and the San Quentin prison uprising of 1971– a prison uprising that included recently murdered San Quentin Six member Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell, we honor Yogi with this dinner.
WHAT: Running Down the Walls – 5k Run/Walk/Jog/Bike
WHEN: 2:00-7:00pm, Sunday, September 6th
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 $2,500. You can donate online by going to gumroad.com/nycabc
This year’s run will take place on Sunday, September 6th 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 $2,500, 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 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:
Russell Maroon Shoatz
Alvaro Luna Hernandez
Robert Seth Hayes
Maliki Shakur Latine
For more information, visit: abcf.net/warchest-program
Family and Friends of Maliki Shakur Latine:
Maliki Shakur Latine is a political prisoner, held in New York state. A former Black Panther, Maliki directly faced state repression and, after a 1979 incident with NYPD cops, was sentenced to 25 to life. We are raising funds to aid in the campaign to secure parole for this elder. For more information, visit justiceformaliki.org
We’ll be starting here:
The event will be two laps around what is known as the Inner 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