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ABCF Running Down the Walls 2009 Reports

November 10, 2009

BY LOS ANGELES ABCF

Every Run Must Have Hurdles

We are pleased to report that the Los Angeles run was a success. Despite attempts to halt our activities, the event continued as planned. We came together as one – shook the ground – sending the message that we will not stop until our comrades are free.

We would like to say that the event began without a hitch, but to make that claim would certainly be a lie. Less than 48 hours prior to our event, LA ABCF received an email from the Department of Parks and Recreation informing us that we could not have the event at Whittier Narrows Regional Park. The excuse given was that – despite our event being smaller than most family gatherings or sporting events held at this location – we must have a permit. One of our members contacted the department in an attempt to resolve the issue but they were adamant that the event will not continue.

After much discussion, the chapter agreed that canceling the event was not an option. We had prisoners running in prison yards and even in their cells. To quit would fly in the face of everything the event stands for – solidarity and resistance.

When we arrived to set up, we noticed an unusual number of park employees and police patrols. We have been to this park on numerous occasions and have had only a few sightings of police. This said we were still uncertain if this was a case hyperawareness or whether our concerns were justified.

We prepared for the run as usual with only slight modifications. Rather than putting up the ABCF banner and anarchist flags, we traded them in for black, red and yellow balloons (colors of AIM) and red and black streamers (color of anarchism). From the outside, we looked like a birthday party not an anarchist event. Rather than hanging signs for the run, we hung signs for “Peltier’s Birthday Bash.”

Folks who arrived for the run were quick to figure out where to go. Police on the other hand were none the wiser. While patrol passed our event, the birthday cake, festive atmosphere and broad diversity of attendees – must have given them the impression that we did not fit the typical group of anarchists they were looking for.

After a few words from LA ABCF member, Mapache, the group listened to statements from prisoners – including an audio message from Jaan Laaman. Everyone came together to take a group photograph and then the run began.

It wasn’t until people were on the course for the run that we truly understood that the police presence was much larger than what we even thought. Police were stationed throughout the park riding horses, in a Bronco truck, undercover vehicle and standard patrol cars. Patrols were driving on the pathway forcing families and runners off the course and occasionally giving suspicious runners the stink-eye. At one point, one of the runners overheard a police officer inquire to the whereabouts of the anarchists. Little did they know that Running Down the Walls (AKA Anarchist Birthday Brigade or the Peltier’s Birthday Bash) was running right under their noses.

After the run was over, LA ABCF presented prizes to the first and second-place runners, as well as the person who raised the most money. We proceeded to eat cake and flautas, talk politics and interact with old and new friends.

At the end of the event, we managed to raise $900, which will be split between the ABCF Warchest, the Chip Fitzgerald Homecoming Fund and Ojore Lutalo.

Overall, we are pleased with the day. The attempt to disrupt the event only strengthened our determination to make this event happen. There was to be no excuse for failure. Turning back was not an option. Not with our imprisoned comrades running behind the barbed wire. We must move forward. It is only through our resistance that we are able to show our solidarity. In the end, we figure what would a run be without a few hurdles – it certainly wouldn’t be Running Down the Walls.

BY JAAN LAAMAN

Here in USP Tucson, we had a morning run — 33 brothers, Black, white, Latino (Cubano, Boricua, Mexicano, Nica), one wheelchair and a few old heads who walked some and ran some, rolled, walked and ran down the walls in the Sonoran desert. We had a few words before we took off as one large group, reminding everyone that as we ran, many others behind other walls were running, as well as people in 12 cities across the country – separated by miles and walls, but united in our efforts for justice and freedom. We also said a few words about this being Leonard Peltier’s birthday and the 15 year hit the parole board recently gave him. We ran for him and for all of us. Everyone took some inspiration in this unity and solidarity and everyone felt positive after finishing the 13 laps we ran, which was just over 5k.
BY DANIEL MCGOWAN

Today, on a muggy day at USP Marion, I ran 5K to coincide with the Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s annual Running down the Walls benefit run in Los Angeles (with other runs and bike rides around the continent). Because of this year’s timing, I did it solo (more than 2/3 of the men here fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan). Despite an allergy flare up and an absurd amount of smoke from a nearby wood burning stove, I finished the 5K in 33:04. I have to disclaim that time though! You should know that our yard’s path is only 1/18th of a mile requiring me to run 55 laps and make a fairly hard turn 220 times! It was a great day to run and I started my run at 12 p.m. so that I would be running at the same time as the folks in LA. I thought a lot today about all the others participating in the run and how this isolation I feel is really an illusion–that there are many others out there that struggle against this cruel and unjust system. My thoughts are with all of you out there struggling for a better world and my fellow political prisoners (and all prisoners for that matter). I hope all of the runs were successful today and that a lot of funds were raised to booster the important work the ABCF does.

BY BOSTON JERICHO

More than 20 people came out on Saturday 9/12, in spite of sometimes heavy rains, to run our 5K for political prisoners at the Jamaica Pond. We set off with an inspiring message from Jaan Laaman, recorded from inside the US penitentiary in Tucson Arizona, where he organized more than 30 prisoners to run this year.

After the run, we were joined by members of the Mashpee Wampanoag community, who talked about the struggle of justice for Leonard Peltier and drummed in his honor.

We raised $500 from the run and will be matching this with Jericho funds, allowing us to send $500 each to the Leonard Peltier Defense/Offence Committee and to Ojore Lutalo, a New Afrikan Anarchist prisoner of war who has recently been released.

Thanks to all who came out on Saturday for helping to make a successful event. Lets work together to make it bigger next year!

Free all political prisoners and prisoners of war!

Jericho Boston
P.O. Box 301057
Boston, MA 02130
Jerichoboston.org
Jericho_boston@yahoo.com
BY TORONTO ABCF

This was our first year participating in Running Down the Walls, and we did a solidarity run with with one organized by Akili Castlin from Pelican Bay. We raised $500 in sponsorships.
BY ARCATA ABCF

In Arcata, CA we had a small but good run. We had a total of nine runners/walkers. Our run took place at the Arcata Community Forest where we ran slightly over 5k up and down the trails in the forest. Like some of the other RDTW we had ours scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m., but had a 2 hour delay because there was another 5k run scheduled for 10 a.m.-12 p.m., and for some reason which was not told to us, they had the only two entrances to the actual trails CLOSED OFF by the fire department (even though every other time that there has been a run scheduled in the forest the public still had access as long as they did not interfere with the runners). They also had a police car parked at the entrance of the parking lot, where there never is any police, and as reported by some of the runners for our event there was also police patrolling in front of the parking lot.

We used the two hours to talk to people in the park who came up and asked us what it was that we were doing. Some people who were just at the park donated some money. Once the two hour bulls**t was over, we started our event. We talked about the importance of RDTW and of supporting PP/POWs, then read some of the statements from the political prisoners, took a group photo then started the run. We hung out for a while after then run then parted ways.

In the end we raised $210 dollars. Some other people have contacted us and said they would like to donate more money, so there might be more money to throw into the pot for RDTW.

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