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Running Down the Walls 2021: A Reportback

It’s no newsflash that the global pandemic, which has devastated so many, including imprisoned folks, is not over. So, for full transparency, we didn’t really know what to expect when we asked friends, allies, comrades, and others with whom we share affinity, to show up for a 5k run and barbecue. We were certainly heartened after tabling a couple of recent events at which we got great interest and met a lot of folks we’d never seen before, but that doesn’t always translate into a successfully attended event. Regardless, we put out the call and New York CAME THROUGH. Throughout the day, we had over 100 folks come through, participate, donate, and eat. We exceeded our fundraising goal of $4,000 and that means more loot for elder former NYS political prisoners and the ABCF warchest. There is still time to donate at venmo.com/nycabc or paypal.me/nycabc

Running Down the Walls in NYC is always a multi-generational event and we knew that meant having folks more vulnerable to Covid-19 there to show support (or have their parents show support for the young ‘uns). We implemented appropriate protocols for keeping everyone as safe as possible, and it turns out to be slightly annoying, but not difficult. Thanks to everyone who came out for understanding and being patient as we took longer to hand out food and drinks, kept everything wiped down, and all that other hoopla.

Setting up early, we were able to distribute a lot of free literature and talk with plenty of folks enjoying a day in the park and curious about the colorful flyers. By the time folks started showing up to register, everyone was hype. Recognizing not everyone participating has the same relationship to time (our nice way of saying there were plenty who were tardy for the party), we waited until after 2:30 to start the actual run. As always, some showed up eager to get the five kilometers behind them and a plate of food in front. And with so many folks, the event organizers left with nothing but empty containers (and a bunch of funds for our PPs and POWs) as the vegan cookout got entirely housed.

Running Down the Walls 2021 was familiar and unique at the same time. It was incredible to receive such great support from so many communities who showed up. We are grateful and deeply appreciate everyone who came through, donated online, promoted RDTW, or supported in myriad other ways. That’s what’s up and that’s how we get down (the walls).

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).