The Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF) initiated the Warchest program in November 1994 to send monthly checks to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have been receiving insufficient, little, or no financial support during their imprisonment. Its purpose is to collect funds from groups and individual supporters and send that money directly to commissary accounts of vetted Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POW) via monthly checks. Since its inception, we have distributed over $130,000 in funds [view our latest Warchest Report accounting for funds raised]. Viewable here
As Sekou Odinga (a former POW recipient) wrote, “Thanks much for the support you’ve been organizing, I really appreciate it. After not having any or very little support for so long, it now seems like (people) have all of a sudden realized that I am alive.”
We are consolidating efforts going on around the country in support of PP/POWs in order to substantially aid such prisoners. There are many such efforts going on. Prisoner supporters are often small in number and finance, so it is usually difficult to meet the material needs of PP/POWs. We may be small pockets of resistance, however, we are also part of a much larger struggle. Former POW Ojore Lutalo said, ‘our enemy is consolidating their efforts against us, we have to do the same.’ One way this is done is through collecting monthly donations from groups or individuals. Many of us cannot afford more than $5, $10, or $20 per month. Alone, this does not amount to much. But, when we pool our resources and give that amount to one Warchest, we are able to make progress. The success we have had thus far attests to this. In the first several years, we were able to increase the number of prisoners we support with consistent support of up to $60 per month. Due to financial restraints in 1999, we were forced to reduce the monthly aid to $40 per recipient. However, since then we significantly increased the number of recipients, and in 2020 we increased the monthly stipend to $50 for the 19 current recipients.
Still, the need is more than we can offer at this time. With your help, we can change this– become a regular contributor, or contact us with your ideas! You can, for instance, support Running Down the Walls, an annual 5K held in and out of prisons all over the U.S. that raises money for the Warchest. Please help this much needed program expand and increase the number of prisoners supported and the amount they receive. There is any number of ways that you can do so. If you want to put on a benefit, please contact one of our chapters first so we can supply you with promotional and informational literature.
Where Does This Money Go?
We originally compiled a list of PP/POWs who we suspected were in need of financial assistance with the help of people including Ojore Lutalo, Sundiata Acoli, and Sekou Odinga. We also asked that list of PP/POWs to add names of PP/POWs they suspected were in need. Those acknowledging they need support answer a questionnaire concerning their financial situation. Based on their answers to these questions, those in the most need are added to the Warchest recipient list. This process continues today as we continually reassess prisoner needs, including prisoners asking to be removed when they are no longer in financial need. Typically, a rotating committee of 5 PP/POWs called the Prisoners Committee helps us make decisions about the Warchest. Prisoners receiving checks use the funds in whatever way s/he wishes. All Warchest recipients are verified as political prisoners or prisoners of war based on international standards. The current Warchest recipients are:
- Xinachtli (Alvaro Hernandez)
- Jalil Muntaqim
- Joe-Joe Bowen
- Jaan Laaman
- Oso Blanco
- Malik Bey
- Hanif Shabazz Bey
- Sundiata Acoli
- Ruchell Cinque Magee
- Chip Fitzgerald
- Veronza Bowers
- Mutulu Shakur
- Eric King
- Abdul Azeez
- Ed Poindexter
- Kamau Sadiki
- Ronald Reed
- Leonard Peltier
- Doug Wright
Warchest Reserve and Emergency Fund
To ensure the Warchest is a long-term and sustainable program, we strive to maintain a balance of one year’s (12 months) worth of Warchest needs in the account at all times to guarantee stipends can continue to be sent in without any interruption due to unforeseen decreases in funds coming in. Because we currently have 19 people on the Warchest, and send them $50 a month, $11,400 is what we strive to maintain in the account. When available funds get low, we will more diligently fundraise to stay above this level.
Any amount in the account over this reserve can be used as an Emergency Fund to send checks to PP/POWs in need of one time or urgent assistance. For instance, Jalil Muntaqim (New York 3 PP) was transferred and lost his belongings including his coat and gloves in the dead of winter. With funds collected from irregular contributors, we replaced these items quickly. Whenever possible, we try to assist PP/POWs in need of support transitioning out of prison with a one-time donation upon their release.
Ways to Donate
Check or money order: made out to Tim Fasnacht and send to Tim Fasnacht, P.O. Box 8682, Lancaster, PA 17604.
PayPal: www.paypal.me/abcfwarchest (or send your donation to [email protected])
If you’d prefer to stay anonymous or are donating in the name of an organization, let us know.