Reading list

Books on Breaking Police Power

Policing and prisons will not save us from gender based violence. These books offer radical alternatives.

14 June 2024

Books on Breaking Police Power

We often receive the implicit message that the police can save us from gender based violence,  if only they could be properly resourced and trained, and were armed with stronger laws and longer sentences for perpetrators. This logic is divorced from reality.

Leah Cowan’s new book, Why Would Feminists Trust the Police?, reminds us of the vibrant and creative alternatives envisioned by those who have long known the truth: the police aren’t feminist, and the law does not keep women safe.

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We’ve paired this new work with further reading on police and prison abolition, state violence, and abolitionist feminism.

Police, Prisons, and Gender Based Violence

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Police Suppression of Dissent

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After Black Lives Matter

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Mapping Police Power and its Abolition

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Further Reading/Listening:

The Verso Podcast: Leah Cowan and Lola Olufemi on feminist futures and abolition.

Verso's Pride Month Reading: Essential reads for combatting pinkwashing and rainbow capitalism.

Why Would Feminists Trust the Police?
Every week it seems there is a fresh scandal involving abhorrent, racist, misogynist behaviour by police officers. Yet these are the very people women are supposed to approach for help when faced w...
Free Them All

Free Them All

How does the criminal justice system affect women's lives? Do prisons keep women safe? Should feminists rely on policing and the law to achieve women's liberation?The mainstream feminist movement h...
Revolting Prostitutes
How the law harms sex workers - and what they want insteadDo you have to endorse prostitution in order to support sex worker rights? Should clients be criminalized, and can the police deliver justi...
Paperback
The Feminist and The Sex Offender
With analytical clarity and narrative force, The Feminist and the Sex Offender contends with two problems that are typically siloed in the era of #MeToo and mass incarceration: sexual and gender vi...
Miss Major Speaks
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a veteran of the infamous Stonewall Riots, a former sex worker, and a transgender elder and activist who has survived Bellevue psychiatric hospital, Attica Prison, the H...
Charged
Charged is an essential investigation into the role of policing protest in Britain today. As the UK government tries to suppress all forms of dissent, in their pursuit of more control, how do the p...
Tear Gas
One hundred years ago, French troops fired tear gas grenades into German trenches. Designed to force people out from behind barricades and trenches, tear gas causes burning of the eyes and skin, te...
Paperback
A Critical Theory of Police Power
The ubiquitous nature and political attraction of the concept of order has to be understood in conjunction with the idea of police. Since its first publication, this book has been one of the most p...
If They Come in the Morning
The trial of Angela Davis is remembered as one of America's most historic political trials, and no one can tell the story better than Davis herself. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Ange...
After Black Lives Matter
Why did a movement as powerful as the one inspired by the murder of George Floyd fall short of securing its most militant demands? After Black Lives Matter argues that the core of the movement itse...
Paperback
Becoming Abolitionists
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, rev...
Policing the Planet

Policing the Planet

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first e...
The End of Policing
The massive uprising following the police killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020--by some estimates the largest protests in US history--thrust the argument to defund the police to the forefr...
Paperback
A World Without Police
Compellingly argued and lyrically charged, A World without Police offers concrete strategies for confronting and breaking police power, as a first step toward building community alternatives that m...
Abolition Geography
Gathering together Ruth Wilson Gilmore's work from over three decades, Abolition Geography presents her singular contribution to the politics of abolition as theorist, researcher, and organizer, of...
The Jail is Everywhere
Nearly every county and major city in the United States has a jail, the short-term detention center controlled by local sheriffs that funnels people into prisons and long-term incarceration. Jails ...
Police
This book armed activists on the streets—as well as the many who have become concerned about police abuse—with a critical analysis and ultimately a redefinition of the very idea of policing. The b...
The Panthers Can't Save Us Now
In the wake of the mass protests over the police murder of George Floyd, nearly every major consumer brand proclaimed their commitments to antiracism, often with new ad campaigns to match their Twe...
The Panthers Can't Save Us Now
In the wake of the mass protests over the police murder of George Floyd, nearly every major consumer brand proclaimed their commitments to antiracism, often with new ad campaigns to match their Twe...
Charged
Charged is an essential investigation into the role of policing protest in Britain today. As the UK government tries to suppress all forms of dissent, in their pursuit of more control, how do the p...
Lockdown High
School violence has fallen steadily for twenty years. Yet in schools throughout the United States, Annette Fuentes finds metal detectors and drug tests for aspirin, police profiling of students wit...
Lockdown America
Why is criminal justice so central to American politics? Lockdown America not only documents the horrors and absurdities of militarized policing, prisons, a fortified border, and the federalization...

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