“Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions.” – Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Over the past year, there has been much talk of defunding the police in Montclair and reallocating police funds toward resources that promote actual public safety. Over that same time period, there has been some talk, but less, about abolition — what it is, what it isn’t, and why it’s so important right now in our political moment.

In “We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice,” organizer and abolitionist Mariame Kaba writes, first quoting Fred Moten and Stefano Harney from "The University and the Undercommons."

“'What is, so to speak, the object of abolition? Not so much the abolition of prisons but the abolition of a society that could have prisons, that could have slavery, that could have the wage, and therefore not abolition as the elimination of anything but abolition as the founding of a new society.' … The logic of using policing, punishment, and prison has not proven to address the systemic causes of violence. It is in this climate that we argue that abolition of the prison-industrial complex is the most moral political posture available to us.”

It is with this spirit that Montclair Beyond Policing is organizing an Abolition Study Group every Monday evening from July 19 to Aug. 30 from 7 to 8 p.m. We will be using the Abolition Journal's recommended Study Guide as a framework for our discussion.

All are welcome — especially those who are curious and excited to both learn more and build together as we help create the world we need and the world we deserve.

To join, you don’t need to be an abolitionist, you don’t need to live in Montclair and you don’t need to feel pressure to attend all of the sessions — whatever works best for you works best for us.

To register, go to: bit.ly/abolitionstudygroup. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at montclairbeyondpolicing@gmail.com. And please feel free to invite other people to attend

Mark Joseph
Member, Montclair Beyond Policing


Montclair Local's Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.

Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@montclairlocal.news, or mail "Letters to the Editor," 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer's name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week's Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our "Town
Square" banner. "Town Square" essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to letters@montclairlocal.news at