(Pictured) A collection of black and white prints by Pogus Caesar documenting the Handsworth Riots in Birmingham, 1985.
“In September 1985 the days were warm and sunny, thousands of dancing revellers, many in brightly coloured costumes, were pouring into the streets of Handsworth, an area of Birmingham, Great Britain, well known for its rich and vibrant cultural mix. Most people who attend the annual Handsworth Carnival on the Saturday say it has been an overwhelming success.
At approximately 5pm on Monday, 9th September, an African Caribbean man was arrested near the Acapulco Cafe, Lozells Road for a traffic offence. Very soon a crowd consisting of African Carribean, Asian, and British people asked the police to let the man go; the police refused the request and the situation escalated into a riot. By 7:30pm, the Villa Cross Bingo Hall and Social Club was on fire; firemen tried to control the flames but the crowd said, “let it burn”.
Between 8pm and midnight, cars were set alight, shops looted and residents were forced to leave their homes. At 11:30pm, police took back control of the Lozells Road area after hours of looting and burning.
What is now known as the Handsworth Riots, lasted for two days. In the aftermath, well over 1500 police officers were drafted into the area and 50 shops were either burnt or looted. Damage to property was estimated at hundreds of thousands of pounds. 35 people were either injured or hospitalised, two people were unaccounted for, and two people lost their lives.
Even today people still ask the question “how could a tiny spark turn into such a gigantic flame” – Pogus Caesar, taken from the Cafe Royal Books publication ‘Handsworth Riots 1985 – Pogus Caesar’.
The Martin Parr Foundation houses a collection of 6 Silver Gelatin prints made by Pogus Caesar.
Silver Gelatin Prints, Black and White
Overall: 30.10 x 39.50 cm
Number of Prints in the Collection