Filed under: Editorials, Incarceration, Northeast, Political Prisoners
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).