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Running Down the Walls 2019: A Reportback

Running Down the Walls 2019 in NYC started in the same way many things start out here, with arriving at the crack of dawn to squat choice real estate in a public park and yelling at some yuppie asshole because he doesn’t know the basics of parallel parking. As we set up for the day, passersby stopped to check out the goings on, peruse our display of free literature, and inquire about the 5k. We have noticed year in and year out that setting up in public, with a lot of foot traffic, draws attention and helps begin great conversations with folks who, until that moment, might have never considered that there are political prisoners and prisoners of war in the United States.

By about 1:30 pm, folks started arriving to register for the 5k, as we blasted old episodes of Burning Cop Car to get the people hyped. There were plenty of participants showing up, including many comrades we see once a year, at this event, and a bunch of folks we hadn’t met before. If you want to know what makes a day like this amazing, imagine seeing Sekou Odinga riding up on his bicycle as a comrade’s toddler wanders after a dog, and a black banner of a clenched anarchist black cross fist blows in the background.

steady mobbin'

Have you ever seen so much Sun in your life?

Operating on anarchist time, the 5k started closer to 2:30 than the publicized 2:00 pm, but only after taking a photo around the Running Down the Walls banner, giving folks the rundown on the route, and reading a statement by anarchist political prisoner Jeremy Hammond. With that, folks were off. Thanks to comrades from NYC Action Medical for being at the ready in case anyone needed medical attention during the event.
Jeremy Hammond Statement
After around 23 minutes, the first participant had made the slightly over 5k circuit and was ready for water. After cooling down and catching their breath, they told us that partway through the run, the thing that pushed them to run harder was the knowledge of what folks on the inside go through every day and how participating in this event renewed their strength in supporting imprisoned comrades.

After all of the folks participating in the 5k made there way around the circuit, we enjoyed a huge spread of unspeakable vegan delights. When Sekou Odinga came up to the table, one of his comrades pointed at one of the dishes and implored him to quickly try it, saying, “that one, there…that one’s special.” But where did he get his protein?!?

In the end, NYC ABC came close to reaching our goal of $4,000. If you’d like to help push us over the hump, you can still donate at paypal.me/nycabc or check the original event listing for other ways to donate.

The remainder of the day was spent socializing and enjoying a great day in the park, surrounded by comrades old and new. Later that same night, NYC ABC tabled a music night and fund raiser for the anarchist book fair. While there, we talked to a couple of folks who told us that the reason they love Running Down the Walls so much is that it’s a reminder that there is revolutionary community in NYC and that it is one of the few times in the year they know they will see a wide-ranging group of folks coming together to have fun, see each other, all while staying focused on those who are still inside. That’s what’s up and that’s how we get down (the walls).

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

Running Down the Walls 2015 – A Reportback

tofu face 2015Running 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).

NYC ABC

Illustrated Guide Version 9.8 Now Uploaded!

We’ve finished the latest version of the NYC ABCIllustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War” and it’s available for viewing (and download) by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. This update includes updated mini-bios, photos, and address changes for several prisoners as well as removing Brian Church (TIME SERVED!) and Sekou Odinga (PAROLED!).

 

 

NYC – Tuesday, April 15th – The Assata Shakur Story, Letter-Writing Dinner for Sundiata Acoli, Sekou Odinga, and Mutulu Shakur

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
WHERE: CAGE83A Hester Street (UPSTAIRS) New York, New York 10002 (directions below)
COST: Free
acoli_odinga_shakurWe made it. After a week that’s included hosting a rousing talk at The Base and a punk show to benefit NYC ABC, we’ve been taking information about political prisoners to folks.

Now, the NYC Anarchist Black Cross collective is back at it, serving up amazing food and knowledge about our comrades behind bars. This week, we’ll be presenting the Assata Shakur story. We’ll talk about, celebrate, and write to Sundiata Acoli, Sekou Odinga, and Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who are all serving time for charges connected to Assata Shakur and/or her successful 1979 prison break and escape.

This week we are happy to have Joan Gibbs as a guest speaker. Joan Gibbs consistently fights for political prisoners through her work with The Jericho Movement and other groups and is currently general counsel for the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College.

All you need to bring is an appetite, but friends are welcome.

In the unlikely event that there is a better use of your Tuesday night, but you still want to support the prisoners, you can write to them at:

Clark Squire* #39794-066
FCI Cumberland
Post Office Box 1000
Cumberland, Maryland 21501
*Address card to Sundiata (Acoli).

Sekou Odinga #09-A-3775
Clinton Correctional Facility
Post Office Box 2001
Dannemora, New York 12929

Dr. Mutulu Shakur #83205-012
USP Victorville
Post Office Box 3900
Adelanto, California 92301

For more information, visit:
http://sundiataacoli.org
http://sekouodinga.com
http://mutulushakur.com

Read more…

NYC – Tuesday, December 10th – Letter-Writing Dinner For NYS PPs (Part One)

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
WHERE: CAGE83A Hester Street (UPSTAIRS) New York, New York 10002 (directions below)
COST: Free
herman_david_jalil_sekouWell, here we are. We’ve reached the end of another year. We’re skipping our every-other-week political prisoner letter-writing dinner scheduled for December 24th, so this will be our last dinner of the year. Hot on the heels of Send Love Through the Walls 2013, we in NYC Anarchist Black Cross want the end of this year and the beginning of 2014 to show our commitment to the political prisoners and prisoners of war closest to us. These are comrades who deserve, short of the full freedom we all desire, a minimum of strong solidarity. So we will spend our next two dinners focusing on those folks held behind New York State walls.

This week we will be writing Herman Bell, David Gilbert, Jalil Muntaqim, and Sekou Odinga. We’ll be watching a couple of short interviews and are fortunate to have a guest speaker– an amazing comrade named Dequi Kioni-Sadiki.

If for some insane reason you can’t make it out, but still want to support the prisoners, you can write to them at:

Herman Bell #79-C-0262
Great Meadow Correctional Facility
11739 State Route 22
Post Office Box 51
Comstock, New York 12821-0051

David Gilbert #83-A-6158
Auburn Correctional Facility
Post Office Box 618
Auburn, New York 13021

Jalil Muntaqim* #77-A-4283
Attica Correctional Facility
Post Office Box 149
Attica, New York 14011-0149
*Address envelope to Anthony Bottom.

Sekou Odinga #09-A-3775
Clinton Correctional Facility
Post Office Box 2001
Dannemora, New York 12929

For more information on these comrades, please visit:
freehermanbell.org
kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/profiles/gilbert.html
freejalil.com
sekouodinga.com

Read more…

NYC – Tuesday, August 20th – Letter-Writing for Black August

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm sharp, Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
WHERE: CAGE83A Hester Street (UPSTAIRS) New York, New York 10002 (directions below)
COST: Free
black_augustHopefully you’ve been training in preparation for Running Down the Walls 2013. 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 sustain the local radical space, The Base. 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.

Maybe you’ve been working too many hours a week to even notice the full-blown war being waged against you by cops and the ruling class. It is real and it is continuing. And of course there is another war– the war against folks imprisoned for their political beliefs and actions. And here’s where we bridge the two.  We will be sending greeting cards to Black revolutionary political prisoners and there’s an easy (too easy? POSSIBLY!) way for you to help. Just come by, eat some food, sign some cards, maybe meet folks you don’t already know, and show some base level solidarity with those behind bars.
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