Made in London Photo: Police confrontation at National Front Rally. Lewisham 1977. Copyright Homer Sykes
In the 1970s the ‘sus law’ (section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824) allowed police officers to stop and potentially convict individuals as ‘suspected persons.’ Why was a Victorian vagrancy act, intended to prevent ‘begging, showing wounds’ and ‘telling fortunes’, used to criminalise minority groups in the 1970s and 1980s? Who brought a stop to it? Who is under suspicion today?
Fighting SUS is a poetry and oral history collection, produced by young people in East London galvanised by their own experiences of exclusion from public spaces and awareness of racism to preserve and explore the events, effects and significance of the SUS laws. Risograph printed, stylishly designed and packed with archive material and original illustrations.
Limited edition, order your copy £6.50 inc p&p, free to community groups, young people, schools, libraries etc.
“In England and Wales, the ‘sus law’became the informal name for section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 which permitted a police officer to stop and potentially convict individuals as ‘suspected persons.’ Section 4 was repealed in 1981 following uprisings in Brixton.”Based in Brick lane, we at Fighting SUS recorded oral histories in order to preserve and explore the events, effects and significance of the SUS laws. This is our creative response to the oral histories we recorded and our findings in various archives such as the Bishopsgate Institute, National Archive and George Padmore Institute. Our artistic expression branches through poetry, spoken word, drama, rap, singing and music.
WHY ARE WE CALLED FIGHTING SUS?
Despite repeal, SUS may have embedded itself into modern society: using art, research and oral histories, we are fightingSUS and its legacies in present-day Stop and Search, systemic racism and social injustice.We started out as a small group of young people in year 10 in January 2018, researching the history of the SUS law and interviewing individuals affected and campaigners who fought for the repeal of SUS. This summer, our group expanded to create artistic responses, do research and learn about the SUS era: the nation’s history of black power, rebellion and resistance.
TEAM: Jolina Bradley, Esmeralda Atikpoe, Mariam Bangura, Saqif Chowdhury, Shanaz Conteh, Thery-Claire (TC) Leshe, Tania Aubeelack, Jessica Lima, Liza Akhmetova, Memuna Rashid, Sarah Ogunfeyimi, Brandon Leon
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