Verso lands human rights lawyer's 'revelatory' memoir

Verso lands human rights lawyer's 'revelatory' memoir

Verso has acquired Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests and the Pursuit of Freedom, a memoir by Derecka Purnell. 

The memoir charts the author's experiences and political awakening through incidents including the murders of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd, as well as examining the history of the police. 

The synopsis states: "In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, the call for the abolition of the police became a central demand for the movement. In this extraordinary, revelatory memoir, Derecka Purnell recounts her own path towards abolitionism. Her story starts in St Louis, where she was often unhoused and experienced food insecurity, and where calling 911 was often the only option in a crisis. She describes her political awakening and activism through watching the aftermaths of events including Hurricane Katrina, the murder of Trayvon Martin and the uprising in her hometown of Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown. Through Harvard Law School she comes to see that that solution can be found not just in the debate on better policing but the end of the policing itself.

"Through her own story she makes a powerful, passionate argument for rethinking a fair, equal society where there is no place for state violence and racial repression. Purnell confronts the history of police as a means to capture runaway slaves and uphold white supremacy, to the overpolicing and murder of Black people in today’s cities. She argues that the police are doing exactly what they were created to do and, in response, imagines new systems that work to address the root causes of violence instead. A revolutionary book about the hope for freedom, Becoming Abolitionists will inspire readers to imagine and create new communities that can guarantee safety, equality, and real justice for all."

Purnell is a human rights lawyer and writer. Her writing has been published widely, including in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, Boston Review and Huffington Post. She has lectured, studied, and strategised around social movements across the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, the UK and Australia.

Leo Hollis, editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, bought via Anna Carmichael at Abner Stein, and will publish on 12th October. The book is to be published in the US by Astra House on 5th October.

Hollis said: "Derecka's voice has been one of the clearest and most powerful over the past few years. I am delighted to be able to work with her on her brilliant memoir that sets out her journey towards abolitionism. This book is utterly convincing and deeply moving, and it is an honour to be her UK editor."