By Angel Boose
The Montclair Education Association is setting an example for others to follow in response to the recent acts of police brutality against Black men and women with a week of solidarity. In the days following the murder of George Floyd, they banded together to determine a plan of action that would allow everyone to come together to express their anger, grief, and support. The team brainstormed a series of events that everyone could take part in.
It began with a memorial on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at Nishuane Park’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The community was asked to come between the hours of 12 to 4 PM during the week to leave written notes, poems, flowers, wreaths, or other signs of solidarity against racism. Visiting the memorial would be a time to honor the Black lives lost due to racially motivated violence. The community really came together; a married couple across the street from the park spent hours pulling up weeds while a man from the community dropped off dozens of cases of water for the participants. Everyone contributed something to the space.
The next event was a Community Conversation on Racial Injustice held via Zoom on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 from 4– 6 PM. It was hosted by Montclair Education Association President Petal Robertson and included a host of panelist. There was an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions and make comments. More than 270 members of the community participated, and the conversation was profound.
The most successful event, according to Robertson was the Mobile Protest held on June 5 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM.
Robertson said, “At the peak we only expected 270 cars but ended up with over 500.”
The caravan drove past all 11 Montclair public school buildings and ended at Nishuane Park. Although it began to rain, at the conclusion participants got out of their vehicles to take part in a moment of silence.
The Montclair Education Association has established a philanthropic fund designed to support social justice. It is named “8:46.” The numbers 8:46 are a reminder of the 8 minutes and 46 seconds the world watched as George Floyd lost his life. The goal of the fund is to get 846 people to donate at least $8.46. All proceeds will go to Project NIA, a grassroots organization that works to end the arrest, detention, and incarceration of children and young adults by promoting restorative and transformative justice practices. To donate visit their GoFundMe page.
Gayl Sheppard, Restorative Justice Coordinator for the Montclair School District stated, “When you’re in a moment, you get tired and stop, but when it’s a movement, you put one thing down and pick another thing up.”
The week of solidarity was just the beginning of the great work that the Montclair Education Association and Restorative Justice Montclair plan to continue doing. More community events are being planned. They will not stop.