Running Down The Walls 2020 Reportback
We’re happy to report the success of our third annual Philadelphia Running Down The Walls in support of political prisoners, held on September 6th 2020.
On this beautiful sunny day, participants began gathering in FDR park to check-in for their t-shirts, make donations, set up tables, and hang banners. With a nice breeze coming off the lake, Sheena Sood led another amazing yoga warm-up – this time right on the boardwalk by the shore. Blak Rapp MADUSA with the Dignity Act Now Collective kicked off the event with an epic introduction to Maroon and his book, Maroon the Implacable.
Walkers left the start line around 11:30 am, followed by folks moving at a medium pace, and finally the runners around 11:50 am. Afterward, we gathered to hear from two former juvenile lifers who were mentored in prison by Maroon– Kempis “Ghani” Songster and Robert Saleem Holbrook. We were also blessed to have Chuck Africa - the last of the MOVE 9 to be released from prison - speak for the first time since he was paroled on February 7th of this year. Check out this video for highlights of these speeches.
We’d like to thank Solidarity Food Not Bombs, Mike Africa Jr. , and Dadaji Odinga from Akbar Originals for refreshments. More big thanks to Hate5six , Unicorn Riot , and photographers Joe Piette and Clifford Smith for media coverage, and the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal for the banners that decorated the stage area. It was a huge honor to have all of the remaining Move 9 participating in this event with us; they not only donated themselves, but provided an additional donation from the Move organization . It was also an honor that we were joined by former Black Liberation prisoner of war, Ojore Lutalo , a founding member of the ABCF. We would like to thank Saleem and Ghani for sharing their powerful experiences spending time with Maroon, and Chuck Africa for choosing our event as the outlet for his first speech back home. We thank the tablers - Socialist Rifle Association , Here & Now Zines, the Never Give Up project, Khalid with the political prisoner artwork, as well as the families of Eric Riddick and Omar Askia Ali . Of course, we also thank the comrades behind bars who ran with us, and the families of people in prison who came out.
Together we raised a total of $14,012! As described in the event announcement , funds are split between Russell Maroon Shoatz and the ABCF Warchest– a fund sending monthly stipends to 19 political prisoners with lacking, little, or no financial support. A full breakdown of Warchest funds in and out since 1994 is available here . In accordance with Warchest policies, any funds over the reserved amount needed to send the monthly stipends will be disbursed as one-time donations to other political prisoners who demonstrate financial need. Philly ABC contributed our organization’s savings to the production of the event t-shirts, lovingly hand-printed by the Reclaim Printshop .
We look forward to more successes in the next year as we further the struggle to free Maroon and abolish the carceral system!
Until all are free!
Running Down The Walls 2019 Reportback
Philly ABC is happy to report the success of our second annual Running Down The Walls in support of political prisoners, held on September 7th, roughly 2 years from the date that our group formed. We again chose a late summer date for the event, but we hope to align our 2020 RDTW with other ABC chapters. We also joined the ABCF earlier this year to more closely work with our long-term comrades in the LA and former Philly ABC chapters.
We gathered at 10 am in FDR park for a yoga warm-up led by Sheena Sood. It was a beautiful morning, warm and sunny with a nice breeze coming off the lake. Two laps around the park loop is conveniently almost exactly 5K. Like last year, we split into 3 groups: walkers, joggers and runners. Walkers left the starting line around 11 am, followed by the joggers at 11:10 and the runners at 11:20. Afterward, we gathered for a group photo, speeches by Mike Africa Jr. (son of Debbie and Mike Africa who were also participating in the event), Janet and Janine Africa, and refreshments provided by Food Not Bombs Solidarity .
Together we raised a total of $1940 to split between the ABCF Warchest , and the Never Give Up! project started by Mike Africa Jr. to provide long-term support for released members of the MOVE 9. We chose royal blue as the color for this year’s shirt to support and raise awareness for Chuck Africa’s fight against colon cancer from within prison. Chuck Africa is up for parole later this year, and along with Delbert Africa is one of the remaining members of the MOVE 9 not yet paroled. Another long-term comrade behind bars in PA, Russell Maroon Shoatz , is also battling colo-rectal cancer so we ran in royal blue in solidarity with him as well. Maroon’s support team is collecting funds to help secure him holistic health options.
At the time of last year’s RDTW, in commemoration of 40 years since the arrest of the MOVE 9, only Debbie had been paroled. This year we were grateful for not only the release of Mike and his reunification with Debbie and family, but the release of Janet, Janine and Eddie as well, all of whom participated for the first time outside of prison walls! We look forward to more successes in the next year!
Until all are free!
Running Down The Walls 2018 Reportback
Photos: Courtesy of Joe Piette and others.
On August 5, 2018, around 90 people ran, jogged or walked 5K to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the incarceration of the Move 9. The route chosen for this event started in Fairmount Park and went past the zoo that members of the Move organization protested in 1973 and 1974 in support of animal rights. The route continued down 33rd street to the intersection of 33rd and Pearl, where the former Move headquarters was before it was bulldozed by the city within 24 hours of the arrest of the Move 9.
Photographs of the Move 9, flowers, and candles as well as a board to write messages was available for supporters to stop and pay their respects at the halfway point. People passing by who knew members of the Move 9 also stopped to pay their respects.
While the national Running Down the Walls event was held in June this year, the Philadelphia event was set in August in order to coincide with the Move 40th anniversary. For this reason, all of the incarcerated people who ran on August 5th are in Pennsylvania or surrounding regions. Many runners on the outside ran with signs displaying the names of either recipients of the Warchest or other US held political prisoners. Including both runners on the inside and outside, the event totaled around 90 participants.
Yoga began promptly at 9:30 am “to warm up our breath, mind and bodies” as yoga instructor Sheena Sood put it. The group then took off in three sections: walkers followed by joggers and finally by runners. This enabled a lot of interaction along the route as people encountered each other frequently. The route was shady to set of the warmth of the day, and refreshments were provided by Solidarity Food Not Bombs.
Together we raised almost $2000 that will be split between Move 9 legal defense and the ABCF Warchest. To close, we squeezed together for a group photo chanting “Free the Move 9, Free All Political Prisoners!”