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The 5 Most Destructive Riots In Human History

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The 5 Most Destructive Riots In Human History

So much anger and disappointment builds up deep within one’s soul upon seeing so much injustice in the world. Rules are not followed, laws are broken, and it seems as if the whole world is falling apart. Feeding on pain and suffering, violence slowly grows inside, lurking until it gets big enough to burst out and bring out the worst in us humans. Then, the whole image we have of civilization and humanity gets distorted, and if you happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, you too might become the victim of the endless war against oppression.

By definition, a riot is a civil disorder led by disorganized groups that rise against authority, property, and people. Extreme acts fueled by frustration, racial tensions, discrimination, and police brutality lead to violence, killings, property damage, looting, arson, shocking scenes that show a whole new face of mankind and put a whole new meaning to humanity. Some might argue that these acts of violence are sometimes the only solution that can bring about some change. However, in reality, they take a toll on civilization. Innocent lives are lost. Businesses are ruined. While you can indeed put a price tag on property damage, in some cases exceeding thousands of millions of dollars, you cannot put a price on the human lives lost and destroyed during the violent events that scarred generations, neighborhoods, cities, and nations.

5. 1965 Watts Riot: Over $300 Million In Damage

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On August 11, 1965, police force pulled over a motorcyclist they believed to have been drunk driving. The driver, 21-year-old African-American Marquette Frye, was arrested as he failed to pass the sobriety test. While the officers were trying to impound the motorcycle, a crowd formed around the scene. What started as dozens grew into hundreds, generating an angry mob that began throwing rocks at the police. Over the next couple of days, tension continued to grow and turned into a race riot that spread out between August 11 and 17, 1965 in the predominantly black Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles. It was the most violence the city had ever seen until the 1992 outbursts.

Rioters covered a 50-square-mile area in central LA, looting, torching buildings, assaulting whites and firefighters, while snipers fired at the police. It took thousands of police officers, soldiers, and an infantry division with tanks to break the rebellion. The 1965 Watts Riot resulted in 34 dead, out of which 27 were African-Americans, over 1,000 injured, and 3,500 arrested. Back then, the estimated cost of property damage exceeded $40 million, which would be translated into $300 million today.

4. 2011 England Riots: $500 Million In Damage

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Between the 6th and 11th of August 2011, thousands of rioters in London and other cities throughout the UK took to the streets as a response to Mark Duggan’s death. On August 4 2011, 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot and killed by a police officer at a traffic stop in Tottenham, London. The media immediately reported that Duggan fired first, but it turned out that the bullet they retrieved was actually fired by a police gun. The police finally admitted that there was no fire exchange. What started out as a peaceful march held by relatives and friends of Duggan seeking justice on August 6 soon turned into a series of looting and violence in Tottenham which soon spread throughout London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and other cities.

Also known as the BlackBerry Riots, because participants used cellphones and social media to organize, the 2011 England Riots were inspired by the bloody LA Riots in 1992. Vehicles, shops, and over 100 homes were destroyed during looting and arson attacks. This resulted in $500 million in damage. In London alone, property damage was estimated at over $170 million. Five deaths and several dozens injured were the direct result of the violent acts that shocked the UK in 2011.

3. 1967 Detroit Riots: Over $700 Million In Damage

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In July 1967, police raided an unlicensed bar in a predominantly black neighborhood; Detroit. They found a party of 82 celebrating the return of two Vietnam war veterans. Police arrested them all. As they were being carried away from the scene, over 200 took to the streets agitated by rumors that the police used force. Shortly after, an empty bottle was thrown into the window of a police car, and one of the most violent urban rebellions of the 20th century burst out.

Also known as the 12th Street Riot due to the bar incident, the 1967 Detroit Riots were a violent response to police brutality. The National Guard and the 82nd airborne were called to repress the uprisings which lasted five days. Looting, fires, and murders led to 43 deaths, 1,200 injured, and 7,000 arrested. More than 2,000 buildings burned down. Back then, the series of arson and looting caused over $100 million in property damage, which would be translated into $700 million today.

2. 1992 LA Riots: $1 Billion In Damage

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Also known as the Rodney King Riot, the LA Riots in 1992 ranked as the most destructive civil disturbance in the 20th century U.S. In 1991, young African-American Rodney King was caught speeding by the California Highway Patrol. Fearing that his probation for a robbery would be revoked, he led the police into a high speed chase on the freeway. When he finally pulled over, a struggle ensued which led the police officers into believing that King was resisting arrest. One officer shot him with a taser gun, while three other officers beat him with their batons. The entire incident was videotaped by a man who lived nearby and witnessed the scene. The four officers were tried for assault and use of excessive force by a white jury who found the offenders not guilty on the 29th of April, 1992. Nobody could believe it. Four officers caught on tape violently beating an African-American simply got away with it. Within minutes after the verdict, anger and disappointment ignited the spark and the riots began.

Liquor stores, chain stores, fast-food courts, and white people were the main targets. On the third day, Rodney King uttered the words that would forever be associated with the violent riot, his own case, and overall racism: “Can we all just get along?” Violence was centered around South Central Los Angeles and lasted for six whole days. The outcome? Over 4,000 injured and 53 dead, mostly rioters and innocent victims that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Ten were shot dead by police and military forces. The string of riots, looting, and civil disturbance caused 3,600 fires which destroyed 1,100 buildings, and overall property damage worth over $1 billion.

1. 2002 Gujarat Riots in India: Over $1 Billion In Damage

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On February 27, 2002, a group of Muslims attacked the Sabarmati Express train stationing in the city of Godhra in Gujarat and set it on fire. They threw rocks at the train so that the people inside could not escape the burning train, resulting in 58 deaths, mainly Hindu activists. What followed was a bloodbath that expanded for months throughout the Indian state of Gujarat. Muslim homes and businesses were torched, mosques and graves destroyed, and Muslim men, women, and children brutally killed. While everyone acknowledges that the train incident triggered the violence, conflicts between Muslims and Hindus in India have been lurking for decades.

Allegations of state complicity, as the state minister himself referred to the incident as a terrorist attack and deliberately allowed anti-Muslim offenses, are the reason many argue that the violence should be classified as a pogrom. Seeking vengeance against Muslims, the Gujarat Riots became the worst episode of Muslim-Hindu violence in India. Analysts claim that the incidents come close to the definition of genocide. When the riots finally stopped, over 1,000 deaths were counted, including 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus, 2,500 injured, 600 children were left orphans and 225 missing and presumed dead. The cost of property damage exceeds $1 billion by far. However, the real price to pay is the many lives forever lost and destroyed in the midst of the bloody uprisings.

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