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John Runnings, peace activist, dies at 86

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Kellanved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:34 PM
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John Runnings, peace activist, dies at 86
John Runnings once joked he was the only person to scale the Berlin Wall into communist Germany and then make it back without a passport.
That was the norm for the peace activist from Seattle: political grandstanding leavened with humor.
His cause, according to his longtime German translator, Sean Taeschner, was a single world law that would outlaw war and make passports obsolete. After gaining fame as the Wall Walker, Mr. Runnings burned his passport at the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing in Berlin, then traveled without a passport to Baghdad in 1991, staying as U.S. bombs hit the city in the first Gulf War.
Many Germans considered him a bit nuts but also viewed him with affection, said Taeschner. Mr. Runnings tried to organize a "National Pee-In" at the Berlin Wall, and he held a hunger strike to shame West German police into returning a homemade battering ram.

He was the first to chip off part of the Berlin Wall, earning him the nickname "The Father of the Stonepeckers." That piece of the wall, as well as his battering ram, is housed in a German museum dedicated to Checkpoint Charlie.

Rest in Peace, John Runnings.
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