7 Destructive Riots That Made Every Business Owner Cringe

by Staff Writer

Almost every riot is accompanied by any business owner's nightmare: looting. Amidst the chaos and terror of a riot, mobs of angry people see fit to smash windows and doors of stores and walk away with anything they can get their hands on. It is an especially effective time for theft, given that police can only control so many people at any given time. Throughout history, riots have been ignited for various reasons. Popular sources include racial confrontations, police brutality, and economic tensions. When a large group of people feel that their demands for justice aren't being met, they can get truly riled up. The ensuing damage can cost billions.

  1. London Riots, 2011

    The London riots are fresh on our minds, as they occurred less than a year ago, starting on August 6, 2011. The riots sparked from an initially peaceful protest over the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by the police force during an arrest attempt. People were angered by the death because Duggan was found to be unarmed at the time of the shooting and his family was not immediately informed of his death. There were also racial tensions to blame, as well as police brutality. From that point onward, the peaceful protest became violent, with theft, fires, stolen vehicles, and the like. Looters were partial to posting their finds on social networking sites, which resulted in a blackberry messenger hack such that Londoners could be informed of where the next looting would take place so they could collectively participate. The riots were mainly in the Tottenham section of North London.

  2. Los Angeles Riots, 1992

    The Los Angeles riots broke out on April 29, 1992 when the verdict to the 1991 Rodney King case was announced on live television. The case concerned Rodney King, an African American, who had been brutally caned by four LAPD officers. When the verdict cleared all but one of the officers from all charges, the public was outraged, and broke into riots, which continued for four days. Curfews were enacted and schools and businesses were shut down while the violence ensued. Four thousand National Guard were called in to restore peace, while the city suffered fires, looting, and general violence towards all kinds of people. More than 50 people were killed and damages within the city were estimated at $1 billion.

  3. New York, 1977

    On July 13, 1977, a massive blackout blanketed the entirety of New York City and lasted for just more than 24 hours. During that time, thousands of fires were set ablaze, stores were looted, and people were arrested for rioting and other disturbances. The rioting caused damages in excess of $300 million. It was reported that lightening caused the blackout. New Yorkers were experiencing a low point in morale due to an economic crisis, which may have spurred on the riotous behavior. Chaos ensued as thousands of New Yorkers took advantage of the absence of power to pillage food, appliances, and other goods.

  4. Detroit, 1967

    When police raided an after-hours drinking club expecting to turn in a few patrons, they were met with 82 people throwing a party celebrating the return of two Vietnam war veterans. The police tried to arrest everyone inside anyway, which caused an angry crowd to gather outside the establishment in protest. As the final police cars exited the scene, the gathered protestors began to break windows of nearby businesses to loot the area. They also started fires and other forms of vandalism. The five subsequent days of rioting escalated to a point in which the National Guard had to be called, 43 people were killed, and more than 7,000 were arrested. The rioting started in the Northwest side of Detroit but spread all the way to the East side. The riots started in a predominantly black neighborhood and, on the whole, can be attributed to racial and socioeconomic factors.

  5. Chicago, 1968

    After Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on April 4, 1968, riots broke out all over the country. However, the worst of the rioting was in Chicago, with a series of riots known as the Chicago Riots of 1968. These started in the black ghetto and spread. Fires were set and looting occurred. The following day, the mayor incited a forced curfew and closed down the streets to vehicle traffic. He also sought to quell the violence by banning the selling of fire arms and other materials that had the tendency to be used towards violence. He asked the 10,500 Chicago police sent to protect the firefighters to shoot with the intention of killing. The riots took two days to allay, and the damage was extensive. Not only were people killed and rendered homeless, but the looting in the black neighborhoods caused a food shortage that had to be addressed by volunteer aid.

  6. Brixton, 1981

    During the afternoon of April 12, police in Brixton came upon a young black man with what appeared to be a stab wound on his back. In their effort to escort him to the hospital, civilians began to violently confront the police officers. The officers were able to get the stabbed black youth onto an ambulance and break up the fighting, but doubled their squad cars in the area and patrolled it heavily until the following day. This lead to extreme tension between the black civilians in the area and the cops, eventually erupting into violent riots. During the riots, petrol bombs and bricks were thrown, cars and buildings were set ablaze, and local businesses were looted. People were robbed in their own homes. Although both black and white people were participating in the rioting, it is thought that the tensions that sparked the riots were racial in nature.

  7. France, 2005

    What became known as the "Civil Unrest in France of 2005" catalogs a series of events starting on October 27, 2005 in which two French teenagers were electrocuted while being pursued by the French police. Riots and other acts of violence had been enacted in the streets in the weeks prior, and the police were sent to a construction site to investigate a potential break-in. The teens that were there, thinking they were being chased, running from the police to a nearby power plant where they were at some point electrocuted and died. The incident became a catalyst for the mounting tensions over suspected police brutality in the area, and riots broke out, spanning the entire month. The result was about $200 million in damages, as rioters had torched dozens of buildings, schools, daycare centers, and hundreds of cars.

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