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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 – Saturday, June 11th – Sacco and Vanzetti Film Screening in Solidarity with Anarchist and Eco Prisoners

WHAT: International Day of Solidarity with Anarchist and Eco Prisoners
WHEN: 8pm, Saturday, June 11th, 2016
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, but we will pass the hat as a fundraiser for prisoners.
J11_2016
Join The Base and NYC ABC here in New York as a part of the celebration of resistance. We will be hearkening back to the history of anarchism and repression in the US, by screening an excellent documentary about anarchist revolutionaries Sacco and Vanzetti who were notoriously railroaded by the US state. The Italian heritage and anarchist political leanings of these two men spurred on the witch hunt against them, so that even though no evidence could be found, newspapers ran headlines such as ‘Hang Them Anyway!

Sacco and Vanzetti, just like Luigi Galliani, were all anarchist victims of the first Red Scare, which set the stage for the continual anti-communist rhetoric and policy that still influences the US state to this day. From the Palmer Raids to the Green Scare, anarchists have fought against the repressive appendages of the state; and on this day of solidarity we want to celebrate the thrust towards liberation and the rebellious actions of anarchist prison rebels internationally.

We’d like to celebrate the anarchist revolutionaries in the past who we draw inspiration from, and who’s traditions we are carrying to the present. From the insurgent heart of Kuwasi Balagoon or Nestor Makhno, or the oratory of Emma Goldman, or the zeal of Johann Most, we recognize the tradition we are espousing and understand the necessity of struggle.

Today we see the same passion from comrades in Revolutionary Struggle in Greece, the anarchist prisoners in Chile and Spain, the daily war going on in Alabama prisons with Michael Kimble, or the growth of a new International Brigades with anarchist fighters on the frontline in Rojava. In these struggles our traditions continue and we will struggle until the trappings of capitalist society and world of states crumbles.

In this struggle prison is always potentially around the corner. As Alfredo Bonanno warned us, you’re not doing your actions right if you don’t go to prison occasionally. Prison is not to be taken lightly. It is the threat of ultimate oppression and a reality that is all too real for revolutionaries. The anarchists serving prison sentences for their contributions deserve our complete engagement in the struggle.

As the call for this day has stated, “In the weeks since we put out our text for this year, anarchists in Chile, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere have faced repression by the state for their refusal to submit to this world of exploitation and hierarchy. For us, this only makes more clear the importance of solidarity. If we hope for our comrades to not fall into the oblivion of prison, we must manifest daily, and in every way, our complicity with their struggles.”

More at june11.org

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