“There is no such thing as a single- issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

 — Audre Lorde in “Sister Outsider”

Over the past few months we have read numerous articles and letters to the editor about very important topics – climate change [1, see below], housing, immigration, abortion, striking workers, and more.

Some questions:

Who is arresting climate protesters and denying climate refugees? (Answer: The police.)

Who is enforcing housing evictions and bullying the homeless? (Answer: The police.)

Who is detaining “illegal” [2, see below] immigrants and surveilling the border? (Answer: The police.)

Who is enforcing abortion laws and imprisoning conscientious objectors? (Answer: The police.)

Who is targeting striking workers and intimidating others who might also join? (Answer: The police.)

And who rushed in to keep their community safe when 19 students and two teachers were brutally murdered in Uvalde, Texas? (Answer: Not the police. They were too busy apprehending parents and family members who wanted to protect their kids. [3, see below])

The atomization and fragmentation of individuals and issues is at the heart of racial capitalism. By focusing on isolated topics and narrow questions we miss the forest for the trees. And the forest is both literally and figuratively burning.

As Audre Lorde’s quote suggests, these struggles (and many more) are inherently connected. Racial capitalism underlies them all and the police, both historically and currently, are the wardens of our exploitative economic, political and social system.

Ultimately, the police are to settler colonialism what the military is to imperialism – a standing army designed to protect the elite (and those who collaborate across class with them), private property and profitable resources while also oppressing the colonized, the poor and anyone deemed different, disabled or dangerous (same parenthetical).

Until both are defunded (and eventually abolished), we will continue to pour water on singular burning trees with little effect, strategy or coordinated organization toward our ultimate goal – liberation.

As the Red Nation writes in “The Red Deal,” “With the resources we gain from divesting from the U.S. military alone, we could end child hunger, homelessness, and fund renewable energy on a global scale tomorrow.”

If you want to learn more about abolition – what it is, what it isn’t, and why it’s so important right now – join us on Monday evenings in August (starting Aug. 8) as we read Derecka Purnell’s tremendous book “Becoming Abolitionists.”

To sign up, please reach out to us at montclairbeyondpolicing@gmail.com.

We have a world to win.

Mark Joseph

[1] Also from “The Red Deal”: “We must be straightforward about what is necessary. If we want to survive, there are no incremental or ‘non-disruptive’ ways to reduce emissions. Reconciliation with the ruling classes is out of the question. Market-based solutions must be abandoned. We have until 2050 to reach net-zero carbon emissions. That’s it. Thirty years.”

[2] More from “The Red Deal”: “Let’s not forget that no one is illegal on stolen land except those who have stolen it.”

[3] There were 376 (!!) law enforcement officers at the scene, according to The Texas Tribune. And yet Joe Biden has a $37 billion plan for an extra 100,000 police officers nationally over the next five years.