Becoming Abolitionists - SIGNED


This is an exclusive opportunity available at Left Bank Books only.

Our event with Derecka Purnell will be virtual on October 13th at 6pm CST / 7pm EST. Purnell will be in conversation with Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Kayla Reed!

For a personalized bookplate, please put personalization information in the order comments.

Important Information:

  • Signed copies are available to U.S. residents ONLY.
  • Signed bookplates are available for each book purchased through Left Bank Books. Book purchase required to recieve a signed bookplate.
  • Books will be shipped to arrive to you within a week following the book’s October 5th release date.
  • Deadline to order a signed, personalized bookplate for Becoming Abolitionists is September 30th. 
  • Orders received after midnight September 30th 2021 will be autographed bookplate only, no personalizations.
  • Thank you for respecting Derecka's generosity in taking the time out of her schedule to autograph bookplates for her new book. It is hard work.

Please contact us at with questions.


About Becoming Abolitionists

An informed, provocative, astute consideration of salvific alternatives to contemporary policing and imprisonment.
-- Starred Review, Kirkus

With deep insight and moral clarity, Purnell invites us not only to imagine a world without police, but to muster the courage to fight for the more just world we know is possible. Becoming Abolitionists is essential reading for our times.
-- Michelle Alexander, bestselling author of The New Jim Crow

At once specific and sweeping, practical and visionary, Becoming Abolitionists is a triumph of political imagination and a tremendous gift to all movements struggling towards liberation. Do not miss its brilliance!
-- Naomi Klein, bestselling author of The Shock Doctrine

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 multi-racial 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 to South Africa, from Reconstruction to contemporary protests against police shootings.

Here, Purnell argues that police can not be reformed and invites readers 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.


Derecka Purnell is a human rights lawyer, writer, and organizer. She received her JD from Harvard Law School, and works to end police and prison violence by providing legal assistance, research, and training to community-based organizations through an abolitionist framework. Her work and writing has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, The Appeal, Truthout, Slate, and many other publications. Derecka is currently a columnist at the Guardian.