The closing stretch of 2022 with its holidays and festive gatherings is in sight. No doubt, many of you are eager to gift the new Certain Days calendar to friends and loved ones. However, just because the year is winding down into sweater weather and hot cocoa, does not mean that the Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s struggle against repression will be taking a break.
On the contrary, we plan for 2023 to be full of solidarity, mutual aid, and freedom for political prisoners and we’d love it if you could help us get a head start on those efforts. Tax Deductible Donations
To take advantage of the tax deduction, make your check payable to “One People’s Project” with “ABCF” in the memo and mail it to: ABCF-OC, P.O. Box 4341, Santa Ana CA 92702. Be sure to include a return address (preferably email) where we can send your receipt back to you.
Additionally, we’ve provided mutual aid to comrade organizations internationally as well as individual political prisoner support committees here on Turtle Island. For example:
$2000 to Belarus Anarchist Black Cross to support political prisoners there.
$1500 to Moscow Anarchist Black Cross to respond to the repression of anti-war organizing against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. We were able to make this transfer before Russia was excluded from SWIFT banking systems.
$1000 to the Civil Liberties Defense Center to assist with their eventually successful representation of Eric King. The BOP’s bogus, retaliatory charges were designed to bury him decades beyond his original sentence.
$4000 to Sundiata Acoli’s post-release support fund.
$1000 to the housing fundraiser for Herman Bell, a former Black Panther and political prisoner who was incarcerated for 45 years.
$1000 to the support committee of Kamau Sadiki to help cover ongoing legal, medical, and visitation costs.
Now that you have some idea of what to expect from us in 2023, please consider making a contribution and inviting your friends to do likewise. As an organization made up entirely of volunteers, our ability to fight for the survival and freedom of imprisoned comrades is dependent on gifts from our community.
They’re in there for us. We are out here for them.
I still think about every fight every scraping – making of knives wondering what happened to those lives they were sharpened for? I still feel every spray every breath it stole away wondering what violence will come today W/the squad at your door I still hear every screaming voice every life isolation destroyed prison ain’t the place for a sensitive boy I don’t want this no more
Eric King, November 30, 2022 Write Eric at: Eric King #27090-045 USP Florence ADMAX PO Box 8500 Florence, CO 81226
1. 2 doors 2. No cell-to-cell contact 3. TV 4. Books 5. You ‘program’ in your cell 6. Rec is totally by yourself—indoor and outdoor 7. Bunk is made of concrete 8. Desk is made of concrete 9. Every door is 100% electronic 10. Every man is 2-man hold 11. Guards have batons in hand 12. No screaming or rapping-thank god 13. No one is ever coming and going, in the SHU people are constantly coming back with news or transferring, everyone is stationary here 14. We can wear sweatpants and shoes 15. We have to slide ‘cop-outs’ under the outside door. Never hand to hand. 16. No standing count ever 17. I control my lights 18. Guards drop off trays—if I don’t want I don’t have to say or interact in any way with them 19. I have all my sheets, blankets, and laundry. Tues and Thurs are laundry day 20. Often feel dizzy in these cells 21. Campers do laundry, canteen, and make our food 22. No radios 23. Hella coffee 24. Entire prison is on the same status, mostly 25. Heard absolutely zero shit talk or antagonism from staff – yet 26. It’s so quiet, eerily so
Write Eric: Eric King #27090-045 USP Florence ADMAX PO Box 8500 Florence, CO 81226
These greeting cards were made by indigenous political prisoner Oso Blanco and the proceeds go to the Children’s Art Project (benefiting youth in Chiapas, Mexico). Get it from independent bookstore and our friends at Burning Books and its even better.
Imprisoned by the US government for expropriating from banks to fund the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), Oso Blanco has been using art to continue his mission. These first four designs were all painted by Oso Blanco after he had been captured in 1999. Proceeds from the sale of these greeting cards will benefit children in the autonomous Zapatista zone of Chiapas, Mexico, and on reservations here on Turtle Island. Learn more at schoolsforchiapas.org & freeosoblanco.org
It can be really scary for prisoners who have been taken for a significant time to return to the world outside. Technology, news events, society at large, all have changed so much. Prisoners returning must play what feels like the Worst possible game of trivia!! It doesn’t need to be so terrible–play along with Eric King and fellow comrades as we have some fun and help him prepare to finally come home.
**We’ll post new topics and prompts and you come up with fun true/false, multiple choice, or a short story that comes to mind**
Mutulu Shakur should have been released long ago, but the cruelties of carceral system know no bounds. MUTULU SHAKUR WILL not die in prison. Once he is free, though, he will only be free to die.
On Thursday, the U.S. Parole Commission confirmed that the Black liberation elder and stepfather of rapper Tupac will be permitted, after more than 36 years behind bars, to spend his final days outside of prison walls.
In May, a Bureau of Prisons doctor said Shakur had less than six months to live. It was not until after an October hearing, however, that the federal parole commission admitted the obvious.
Shakur is dying of bone marrow cancer. His body and mind have deteriorated. In May, a Bureau of Prisons doctor said Shakur had less than six months to live. It was not until after an October hearing, however, that the federal parole commission — an antiquated institution that has denied the 72-year-old’s release 10 previous times — admitted the obvious: that the dying man, who has long posed zero risk to society and holds an impeccable institutional record, and who is considered a mentor to many, will likely not commit another offense and should be released.
Shakur’s belated release is a poignant example of the criminal punishment system’s breathtaking cruelty. While Shakur’s case turned on an obscure parole commission that today directly affects several hundred people, the broader forces behind his unnecessary and protracted imprisonment cast a shadow over America’s entire sprawling mass incarceration system.
The federal parole commission is not acting out of compassion. It is simply — and finally — following its own purported guidelines. Shakur had been gravely ill with terminal cancer in April, when the same parole commission denied his release; medical reports had also attested then to his decline in physical function, his confusion and hallucinations. Yet it was only with the further dramatic decline of his health that he has now been deemed eligible for freedom.
He will spend his remaining days in Southern California with his family.
Although long overdue, this is a result for which Shakur’s lawyers, family, and supporters have been fighting tirelessly, on numerous legal fronts, for many years.
“We are relieved that the Parole Commission now recognizes what has long been true — that Dr. Shakur’s release poses no risk whatsoever,” said one of Shakur’s attorneys, Brad Thomson of the People’s Law Office. “It is tragic that it took until he was on the verge of death for that truth to finally be realized.”
SHAKUR WAS CONVICTED of racketeering conspiracy charges alongside several Black liberationists and leftist allies for his involvement in the 1981 robbery of a Brink’s armored truck, during which a guard and two police officers were killed. Shakur has taken responsibility for his actions and expressed remorse for the lives lost. He was also convicted for aiding in the prison escape of Assata Shakur.
Prior to his incarceration, Shakur was a member of the Black nationalist organization Republic of New Afrika. He was a renowned acupuncturist and a central figure in the movement to bring holistic health care and self-determination to Black residents in the Bronx in the 1970s — a struggle against the conditions of organized abandonment imposed on poor, Black communities under racial capitalism.
Freedom for longtime incarcerated Black liberation elders has always been hard won. Several aging former Black Panthers — like Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim, and Sundiata Acoli, who were imprisoned in state prison systems for all too many decades — were granted parole in recent years, despite the zealous opposition of powerful police unions. Shakur has faced the same systematic, ideological intransigence, plus further institutional blocks as a longtime prisoner in the federal rather than state system.
Shakur was incarcerated under a set of federal sentencing guidelines, known as “old law,” because he was convicted for crimes that took place before 1987, when the guidelines changed. As such, his parole decisions have been under the oversight of the U.S. Parole Commission: an outdated body consisting of just two decision-making commissioners that was intended to be phased out decades ago.
The new sentencing guidelines eliminated parole for defendants convicted of post-1987 federal crimes, decreasing the need for the commission. The commission’s very existence thus rests on the continued incarceration of fewer than 200 “old law” prisoners like Shakur, who are eligible for parole. There’s a grim vested interest in keeping these people in prison. With Shakur on the verge of death, however, it would have been an extreme violation of the commission’s own guidelines to deny parole once again.
According to the guidelines, the commission “shall” release any prisoner on mandatory parole if they have served two-thirds of their sentence, or 30 years of a sentence of more than 45 years, unless “he has seriously or frequently violated institution rules and regulations or that there is a reasonable probability that he will commit any Federal, State, or local crime.” Shakur more than qualifies; he has qualified for years.
“We now find your medical condition renders you so infirm of mind and body that you are no longer physically capable of committing any Federal, State or local crime,” noted the parole commission in its decision to grant Shakur’s release.
Grounds offered by the commission to deny Shakur’s release in the past have, as I’ve noted, been preposterous. The commissioners previously cited as a “serious violation,” for example, the fact that Shakur had been put on speakerphone during a phone call with a professor and her class in 2013, while they discussed his support for founding a truth and reconciliation commission in the United States.
Meanwhile, Shakur’s parole packet has been a glowing testimony to his character and the positive influence he has had on those incarcerated with him. “I recognize Dr. Mutulu Shakur not only as my father, but as the man who changed my way of thinking and saved my life,” Ra’ Sekou P’tah, who served 20 years in prison for a nonviolent drug crime before his sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama, wrote in a letter of support for Shakur’s parole. Dozens of letters detailing how Shakur has been a transformative force for his communities both within and beyond prison walls accompanied his parole application.
That Shakur has only been released on his deathbed did not come as a surprise. A judge who rejected his request for compassionate release in 2020 told him he should not expect anything less. The judge told Shakur that he could reapply at “the point of approaching death.” That same judge, now over 90 years old, was the one who sentenced Shakur to prison over 30 years ago.
In the end, Shakur’s release has been granted through the parole commission, not the court, and only after his legal team and support committee had been urgently trying every avenue to secure his freedom before death.
Thomson, his attorney, said, “Mutulu will now be able to live out his final days, surrounded by the love and care of his family and close friends.”
Please join #jamesriverabc for our monthly letter writing night. We will be writing Eric King and Jessica Reznicek. This is a new location and since it’s indoors masks are encouraged and appreciated. We look forward to seeing y’all there!
Eric King has been on some form of commissary restriction or another for the last 4 years. He will never walk another yard (in general population) again but his restrictions have finally been lifted! We would love to celebrate this and surprise him a bit. Basic small pleasures we often take for granted. Spoil him with sweets. Let him finally load up on enough stamps to respond to everybody. Lots and lots of peanut butter! If you drop a donation here we are going to group them together and send them via Western Union to surprise him. Updates lives at https://supportericking.org/2022/11/06/update-from-eric-11-6/
Hello friends, comrades, and government Nosey Nathans! I’ve been in ADX for about two months now and wanted to give a little update and talk over what things are like here.
This prison, more than any, exist to break spirits and disrupt connections to the real world. It was built specifically for that purpose. The isolation here is on a very deep level. There are days that pass where I literally speak to no one and hear no one else. Some folks have decades here; imagine if you can. It’s brutal and sickening. This entire joint is a psychological war zone.
We are given TVs, which is cool, but you can get lost in them. It’s very easy to give up on fitness, mail, reading, and live in the screen. That is 100% what they want, digital social control, screen shackles. I do lots of jogging in place when a show is on, lots of movement. I’ve been in the SHU the last 4 years, most of that time without radio or books let alone a TV. That time was brutal as shit but it did teach me how to set a routine, and to get by on very little…that’s also easy for me to say knowing I’ll be out in approximately 10 months, having done one year here…many don’t have an outdate, or mail, or books coming. This is their life and those NOT swallowed by desperation are some of the strongest people imaginable.
Every day a big part of my routine is doing daily check-ins with myself, something I learned to do to keep despair at bay. I list all the things I’m thankful for, saying it out loud—usually while hitting lap …. Then I list all the good things about the current day I’m in—simple things like “the water was nice in the shower today” and massive things like “I got mail from my wife!” …. then all the good things tomorrow has in store— “[Manchester] United is on” … “mail may come” … “it’s laundry day” … “pancakes for breakfast” …
My reality is that, with such limited communication with my family the days in here can get as dark as I allow them to. No one in here is going to hold my hand and make sure I’m ok …it’s on me. I need to make sure this odd hell doesn’t get a hold of me … lose just a little focus and a whole lot of darkness can sneak in. The only person who can hold you up on a daily basis is yourself, and you must do it.
I’m more fortunate than most. I’m short-timing. I have a fantastic wife, kids, and amazing comrades. I have a legal team fighting for me. I have a deep love of life and thankfully the Bureau hasn’t dimmed my light yet. Mail can be super fast one week, then take a month depending on what’s going on. So if you’ve written me, please know that I’ll try and respond as quickly as I can
Thank you to everyone sending books, letters, everything. Love and support is always needed and always appreciated. “we. all. we. Got.”
Solidarity to those in ATL, wicked respect and admiration to the women in Iran, RIP to Kathy Boudin and Maroon… and solidarity and respect to our elders and comrades still inside; state and federally. This is a hard fight, a long fight, and a worthy fight.
All love and respect, friends. I’ll write again soon, we’re almost there…
(///) – Everywhere (A) – Always -EK
Every day sucks
and things are ok also
Today could end up in tears
screams and dreams of revolutionary retribution
or weeping over “young Sheldon” throwbacks
cheering United, laughing w/” it’s always sunny”
Either way no one will hear it
Either way I’ll over feel it
All the sorrow held captive by these walls
the bodies may get out, everything else stays
what you do in here, is owned by you
what is done to you, who will ever know?
My scrubbed toilet, swept floor, daily fitness
all for me, no one else will ever see.. or care
any meaning, is the meaning I give it
Either a nihilistic nightmare
or the ultimate test of rebellious resilience
“A wall is just a wall” + suffering isn’t a straight line
In early September, various Anarchist Black Cross chapters held the annual Running Down the Walls 5K events. Since 1999, prisoners and supporters throughout North America have participated in Running Down the Walls (RDTW) often running or walking simultaneously in many cities and prisons at once. This is a non-competitive 5K run/jog/walk/roll in order to raise awareness and funds for political prisoners. Over the years, we have raised thousands of dollars and lots of awareness around the struggle to free political prisoners. Below is the run down of Running Down the Walls 2022.
Chicago, Illinois (September 10th) #RunningDownTheWalls went down in Chicago 2022, surrounding Cook County Jail for a day of solidarity actions in support of political prisoners and the movement to #FreeThemAll. We marched in the streets around that abysmal dump with chants and cheers, making contact with people inside on all sides of the jail. Then, we did it again, jogging the 5K! Shout out to all the bands who put on an epic generator show outside the jail, sharing music with the people inside! Appreciations to @rpsolidarity for providing food and refreshments.
RDTW raised funds for both the ABCF Warchest and Midwest Books to Prisoners. We read statements prepared for the event by imprisoned comrades Oso Blanco and Dan Baker, and we signed cards for political prisoners supported by the program.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 11th)
A little drizzle didn’t stop the people from coming out for Running Down the Walls 2022 in Philadelphia on September 11th. A group of about 150 came together in FDR park, along with 50 or so participating remotely – inside and outside prisons – to raise funds and strengthen solidarity with political prisoners. This year, proceeds were split between the ABCF Warchest and the Philly chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Together we raised $11,607, with $5,803.50 going to each.
James River Anarchist Black Cross held our first ever Running Down the Walls on September 17th. It was a sunny and pleasant Saturday in Chimborazo Park. Before the run/walk/roll, Jihad Abdulmumit, former political prisoner and current chair of the Jericho Movement, spoke on the importance of the Warchest and how he appreciated the cash when he was locked up. After the 5k we had a potluck, raffled off a bunch of books and t-shirts, and chilled out in the park for a few hours.
Overall we had 25+ people participate and raised over $500 which we split between our local work and ABCF Warchest. We hope to raise even more next year!
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (September17th)
September 17 was a beautiful and sunny day to run down the walls in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas).
We gathered at Bayfront Park for a 5k run, walk and roll. As we started our run, we read the inspirational words of Eric King, Oso Blanco and Dan Baker.
Running Down the Walls 2022 felt like a homecoming. Those of us in NYC ABC got to catch up with long-time comrades and meet new folks, many of whom have taken on amazing projects. We shared food, heard statements from some of the political prisoners taking part from behind the walls, and raised much-needed funds for the Anarchist Black Cross FederationWarchest Program and Roots Unbound. But that’s not why you’re reading this, right? You’re more interested in the tedium of logistics. How the day came together. What protocols we adhered to for safety under the reality of an ongoing global plague. Right? RIGHT?!? No? Well, we get it. Organizing is rarely glamorous, and the hard work of supporting political prisoners is not romantic–in more cases than not, we don’t “win.” We have aging comrades dying behind these walls and it’s not benign neglect by the state, but rather the continuation of a war against oppressed folks they picked centuries ago. We see folks targeted for resistance to capitalism and the logic of “resource extraction,” whether the resources they plunder are the earth and everything living on it, or the labor we’re forced to sell just to survive.It would be easy to see the escalating repression, throw our hands up, and walk away. But where does that leave those with whom we share affinity and are either locked up, or facing it as a likely reality? Nowhere good, that’s for certain. So we keep it moving, figuratively and literally. Which brings us back to this report back.
The day started like many other RDTW days, with the juggling of finding parking, locking down the spot we use for gathering before and after the event, and getting set up. We scheduled the event this year to coordinate with others across the country, later i the year than typical, which left us concerned over potential bad weather (READ: hurricane season). But the nefarious cabal of weather controllers couldn’t hold down the popular will to enjoy a day in the park, so we enjoyed great weather. Once set up and ready, we waited for folks to arrive and arrive they did. Crews and individuals showed up early and we had a big crowd well before the 2:00pm event start time. “Wait, you started on time this year?” you might ask. Well, no. Anarchy time is a strange companion, after all. However, by shortly after 2, we took a group photo and made our way to the starting line. From there, we explained to those who showed up for a 5k with no context (surprisingly there were a few, thanks to promotion on a local runner’s forum), what Running Down the Walls is, who it benefits, and the route of the 5k. And then they were off!
Some took the 5k seriously and asked for their lap time, but most folks showed up for a good time and camaraderie regardless of how they took part in the event. In the end, everyone enjoyed themselves and after eventually cooling down and hydrating, we heard from Roots Unbound and from imprisoned comrades, the latter by way of pre-written statements they wrote for the event. All told, we had over 80 folks show up throughout the day and raised over what we set as this year’s goal. In the middle of all of it, we were able to talk with a lot of passersby, give away a lot of literature, and get the word out about political prisoners in the so-called USA.
That’s what’s up and that’s how we get down (the walls).
Lowell, Massachusetts (September 18th)
Before our run we mentioned the recent visit by Philly ABC with Toby Shone in the UK. We gave solidarity shout outs to Oso Blanco, Eric King, and Dan Baker. We reminded people of the many Black liberation prisoners who have been sitting behind bars for 50 plus years and getting a lack of support.
We had about 12 people run. We hope to establish a RDTW committee next year to make organizing more effective in the eastern Massachusetts region.
Los Angeles, California (September 18th)
On September 18th, the Los Angeles chapter of the ABCF joined in with other cities across North America in the annual Running Down the Walls. With the origins of the annual run rooted in the hills above Los Angeles (first run being in Griffith Park in 1999), we returned to the hills, this time being in Elysian Park. As tradition, we began the run with a reading of several statements from our comrades behind the walls with statements from Oso Blanco, Eric King, and Xinachtli.
Afterwards, we spoke on the tradition of the run and the fact that across the North America people were coming together as one in support and solidarity for political prisoners. We highlighted that this event also helped to fund the ABCF Warchest and the explained how the Warchest helps support political prisoners through monthly stipends and emergency assistance. Just last year alone, the Warchest disbursed $30,000 to comrades in needs. It is because of the support from folks on the outside that we can do this type of mutual aid.
When the run began, the path overlooked the Dodger’s Stadium along with the city’s beautiful scenic skyline. Southern California suffered weeks of scorching and record-breaking temperatures, but it seemed the heat wave broke just for our event. Instead of the heat, we were gifted with mild temperatures, overcast skies, and a perfect breeze to cool off those participating in the event.
While the number of participants were smaller than normal, we attribute that to the last couple runs being organized as remote runs due to the pandemic. However, with our online campaign and the funds that have come in on the day of and post run, we have raised over $3,000 for the ABCF Warchest. We know that these funds are desperately needed and will go to good use.
Pomona, California (September 18th)
ABCF-OC is happy to report that our second annual Pushing Down the Walls event was a terrific success. This year’s event was held at the Por Siempre art space in so-called Pomona.
Through a combination of online/virtual fundraising, sales of books from PM Press, prints from N.O. Bonzo, zines from our comrades at Brittlebush Distro, patches, custom t-shirts, pins, and stickers, burpee sponsorships, and cash donations from attendees the day-of, we were able to raise a total of $2209.95. Of that total, $200 was donated to the surviving family and loved ones of Chilean water protector, Macarena Valdes, who was murdered by the Chilean State for her role in defending sacred Mapuche land from the encroachment of RP Global, a multi-national energy corporation headquartered in Austria. An additional $250 in funds were also raised through the sale of custom t-shirts and postcard sets featuring original artwork from our friend and comrade Oso Blanco. These funds will be deducted and donated in accordance with his wishes.
Along with the burpee marathon, the event featured live music, DJ’s, a statement from supporters of Macarena Valdes and statements from our incarcerated comrades Sean Swain, Oso Blanco, and Dan Baker, and amazing food and drinks from a local taqueria. We want to offer our sincerest thanks to the vendors, musicians, artists, organizations and individuals whose commitment and participation helped make this year happen. We look forward to next year’s event and are stoked to keep building, building it bigger through continued dialogue and collaboration, and–above all–to keep doing more to keep on supporting our imprisoned comrades.
Portland, Oregon (September 18th)
A big thank you to everyone who came out to make #RDTW2022 in PDX a success — we raised at least $1250 for the ABCF Warchest! Your solidarity is appreciated and necessary for working towards a world without prisons.