There has been a recent resurgence in attention to James Baldwin as academics, public intellectuals, filmmakers, and curators engage with his work through the lens of the Movement for Black Lives. Continuing this turn, I read Baldwin as a theorist of the law and, ultimately, an abolitionist. By reading “The Fire Next Time” (1963) and “No Name in the Street” (1972), I argue that policing in the United States is inherently organized by a(n) (il)logic of anti-Blackness that necessitates racist violence as a structural component of its practice. This pessimistic diagnosis is extended through Baldwin’s theorizing on the Black Panthers to illustrate that while policing in the United States can never not be excessive in its racist violence, the Black subjectivity that would seemingly be obliterated by this excessive force of law ultimately exceeds the reach of the policeman’s club or bullet, without losing sight of the bodies left in those weapons’ wake.

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