Typically, when we are aggrieved and frustrated at things in in our lives we have avenues to deal with the issues. As children, we had our parents who solved disputes. In the workplace, we have unions and mediators. In society, we rely on police officers, lawyers and the courts. For the most part, when an individual or group is upset, these forces have remedied the situation to a point where further trouble is avoided and everyone can get on with their daily business. But what about those more serious instances where grievances are too strong and emotions remain unchecked so that no amount of mediation or threat of law works?
Riots occur when individuals and groups of people lash out against authority, other people and property. Often fuelled by rage and frustration, riots come in many shapes and sizes and result from any number of primary causes. While they may begin peacefully, as part of a non-violent protest, riots can begin quickly – seemingly arising from nothing. In today’s world, common driving forces behind riots include race, religion and politics. Not limited to those three topics, even something as simple as a sporting event can cause a group of people to go on the rampage as they look to deal with anger or humiliation. Of course, as is often the case in all riots, small roaming mobs tend to grow in size quickly as others get caught up in the moment or look to have some ‘fun’ at the expense of others. The result can be a giant, leaderless and directionless group which destroys anything in its path.
Across the globe, throughout history, nowhere has been immune to the threat and devastation posed by a riot. Wherever people have been pushed to their limit, wherever a protester has decided to push back just that little bit more, and wherever authority figures have enraged the crowds before them there have been riots. More than a protest but less than a revolution, riots are usually localized events involving a specific region, city or neighborhood. Like a virus they can spread and it’s not uncommon to see examples of police and military forces crushing groups of rioters under a wave of bullets and bayonets.
The following video looks at 10 of the biggest riots to ever break out. While they are ranked in no particular order, you will see that the death tolls and destruction for each riot varies greatly. Some riots were short in duration but involved thousands of people who devastated large areas of the city. Other riots lasted months and slowly, but steadily, increased the death toll and damage. Ahead you’ll see that 1960s America was a powder keg for black-white relations – a simple traffic stop could be enough to set off a major riot. In other countries, like India, religion was a significant source of friction with tensions creating a hair-trigger environment, ripe for potential riots. Tired of corruption and rigged elections African nations, like Kenya, saw dissatisfied voters pushed beyond their limits by the latest results.
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