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The riots at Birmingham, Alabama, in the spring of 1963 were notorious across America, and with this wide publicity the event was one of the climaxes of the Civil Rights Movement. Supporters of Martin Luther King, protesting at segregation at lunch counters, were attacked by the police with dogs and water hoses, and King himself was arrested. Warhol contributed this small print to a portfolio of work by ten artists, published the year after the riot. The image is changed only in size and status from a newspaper photograph. In the form of a print in this portfolio it commemorates the tensions in American popular life at the time, and forcefully illustrates the distance of the arts from such events.

September 2004