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Summary

For more than a century, activists in the United States have tried to reform the police. From community policing initiatives to increasing diversity, none of it has stopped the police from killing about three people a day. Millions of people continue to protest police violence because these “solutions” do not match the problem: The police cannot be reformed.

In Becoming Abolitionists, Purnell draws from her experiences as a lawyer, writer, and organizer initially skeptical about police abolition. She saw too much sexual violence and buried too many friends to consider getting rid of police in her hometown of St. Louis, let alone the nation. But the police were a placebo. Calling them felt like something, and something feels like everything when the other option seems like nothing.

Purnell details how multiracial social movements rooted in rebellion, risk-taking, and revolutionary love pushed her and a generation of activists toward abolition. The book travels across geography and time, and offers lessons that activists have learned from Ferguson, Missouri, to South Africa, from Reconstruction to contemporary protests against police shootings.

Here, Purnell argues that police cannot be reformed and invites listeners to envision new systems that work to address the root causes of violence. Becoming Abolitionists shows that abolition is not solely about getting rid of police, but a commitment to create and support different answers to the problem of harm in society and, most excitingly, an opportunity to reduce and eliminate harm in the first place.

©2021 Derecka Purnell (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

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  • C.O.
  • 17-12-21

highly recommended

great book for the newbies who want communities to operate without the cops. this book does a great job of connecting capitalism, ableism, patriarchy, etc to the need to eradicate current systems of oppression and reinvent them in new "people first" ways.

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  • Mies
  • 14-12-21

Unexpected!

I was delightfully surprised that this book was as much about personal growth and the importance of political education as it was about abolitionist ideas. It is a hopeful story that does so much to challenge history, perception, and norms; truly imaginative! The reader is also a great listen.

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  • normal person
  • 24-11-21

masterful work

What an incredible book. Absolutely a must read for anyone serious about better understanding police abolition

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  • TR
  • 11-10-21

An EXCEPTIONAL contribution

This is a wonderful coming of age story of one of the most astute thinkers of our generation!!! Brava!!!

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