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28 October 2014
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3 Youths (c) Leroy Cooper
3 Youths (c) Leroy Cooper

Leroy Cooper, Artist and Photographer

Photographs of Liverpool and artwork by the man whose arrest sparked the Toxteth riots.

On 3rd July 1981 the arrest of Leroy Cooper on Selborne Street brought out an angry crowd of locals.

Gun Play (c) Leroy Cooper
Gun Play (c) Leroy Cooper

In the fracas that followed three police officers were injured. The following night full scale rioting broke out in Toxteth. In the days that followed hundreds of police officers were injured and CS gas was deployed for the first time on mainland Britain.

Leroy Cooper admits that after his arrest it would have been easy for him to become just another local thug. He says that given the economic and social situation in Liverpool at the time he could have easily have chosen to follow this road. Instead he was inspired to pursue a career in the arts.

video Watch: Leroy Cooper's Story >
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Leroy Cooper
Leroy Cooper

He appeared as a performance poet on several TV documentaries and dabbled in DJ-ing. As a graffiti artist he took to painting street signs in Toxteth red, yellow and green, the colour of Rastafarian culture. He called it an Urban Installation.

He also took photographs. Lots of them. For twenty two years Leroy Cooper has taken pictures of Liverpool as well as travelling abroad on what he calls ‘photographic missions’ to other cities.

His collection now numbers over 150,000 images and offers a glimpse of his life in Liverpool since the mid 1980’s.

Leroy’s photographs of life through the 1980’s and 90’s chronicle what he calls ‘A Secret Life of Liverpool’.

last updated: 24/07/06
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