Handsworth riots

Handsworth riots

The two Handsworth Riots occurred in the Handsworth suburb of Birmingham, England, during the summers of 1981 and 1985. The riots were allegedly caused by heavy-handed policing and drug-related problems in the suburb, fueled by a nationwide wave of uprisings in the wake of the April 1981 Brixton riot. Other sources claimed that the local Black British felt aggrieved at the increase in Asian owned businesses that were prospering in the area. Violent racism existed in the city from both cultures. It has been argued that the riots really arose from poor social conditions, racial discrimination, poverty, unemployment and dilapidated housing. Since then much has been done to improve the local amenities and housing conditions.

The first riot in Handsworth took place on July 10, 1981. The second larger riot took place between the 9th and the 11th of September 1985. The riots were reportedly sparked by the arrest of a man near the Acapulco Cafe, Lozells and a police raid on the Villa Cross public house in the same area. Hundreds of people attacked police and property, looting and smashing, even setting off fire bombs. In its aftermath, 2 people were left dead, 2 unaccounted for, 35 injured, over 1500 police officers drafted into the area, around 45 shops looted and burnt, and a trail of damage running into hundreds of thousands of pounds The riots were to spark a series of similar riots across the country, notably the Broadwater Farm riot in London. Filmaker and artist Pogus Caesar extensively photographed the second Handsworth riot, it was also witnessed by Bronx graffiti artists Brim and Goldie, who documented the devastation in the Channel 4 documentary Bombing.

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