Montclair Area Solidarity Network, or MASN, will be hosting a Night Out for Safety and Liberation on Tuesday, Aug. 2, in the Glenfield Park picnic area. The same night Montclair Township will be playing host to National Night out.

“This will be a gathering in celebration of community,” said Erik Jacobson, an organizer of Night Out for Safety and Liberation. ”At the heart of the event is the belief that rather than reactively responding to harm that has already occurred, proactively building community and reducing the potential for harm will make us all safer. It is community that provides safety, not the system of policing."

MASN is a collective of smaller organizations in the Montclair community. Aktion Kat Distro, Montclair Area Harm Reduction and Montclair Beyond Policing are mutual aid groups that support the Montclair community with such basic needs as food, clothing, medical supplies and financial assistance. Originating in 2020, the organizations started participating in local marches and video conferences about the importance of mutual aid in the wake of the racial protests that erupted throughout the country.

We kind of realized that the harm reduction work we're doing, the community garden work we're doing, and the district work we're doing is all connected to wanting to see a community that supports each other and provides needs without having to rely on the police or the township administration,” said Greg Pason, a member of MASN. “So the work that we're doing, and actually the work that's being done at this event on the 2nd is kind of like the catalyst that keeps us all together.”

Tuesday, Aug. 2, is also the day that police departments across the country, and in Montclair, celebrate “National Night Out.”

The National Night Out event, which includes the Montclair Fire Department, Montclair Ambulance Unit and Montclair Animal Shelter, will be held 5 to 8 p.m. at South Park and Church streets, which will be closed off. Residents are invited to speak one on one with law enforcement officers and emergency personnel. Children can get a close-up view of the equipment that first responders use. Local shops and vendors will also offer activities.

“National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live,” the press release from Montclair Township said. 

MASN deliberately chose the same date for its event, but organizers insist that their night out is about celebrating the community and not an “overt protest” against local law enforcement.  

The event will start at 4 p.m. and go until dusk.