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.
A full report is at https://phillyabc.org/post/2022-10-03-rdtw-reportback/
Richmond, Virginia (September 17th)
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.
Thanks to our generous supporters, we raised over $1000 to donate to the ABCF Warchest and locally, Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project.
Austin, Texas (September 17th)
Recap coming soon.
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 Federation Warchest 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.