Call them riots or civil insurrections, when a disenfranchised population is triggered by an event that symbolizes their shared grievances, the consequences can be the unleashing of years of suppressed frustration and rage. While it is common for governments to blame the rioters, a detailed look at the causes show that the law and law enforcement often responsible for the loss of law and order. Here are the five most notable riots in Black communities across the globe.
5. Watts Riot, 1965
In 1965, three members of a black family in Los Angeles were locked up by police for protesting the arrest of their brother. Fueled by unemployment, poor schools and housing discrimination, discontent in the Watts neighborhood erupted and people began to loot, vandalize, and clash with police and white motorists. The riot lasted for six days. Thirty-four people were killed, 1,032 injured, and 3,952 arrested. Police commissioner, William Parker, fueled the fires by saying that the rioters acted “like monkeys in a zoo”
A California gubernatorial commission found the causes of the riot to be high unemployment, poor schools, and other inferior living conditions.
4. Detroit Riots, 1967
In 1967, police raided a after hours party in Detroit and tried to arrest 82 people who were celebrating the homecoming of two soldiers from Vietnam. This resulted in a neighborhood protest that lead to looting, vandalism and arson. Once again the National Guard was called in after five days of rioting. At the end of the chaos, 43 people were dead, 1189 injured, and over 7000 were arrested.
The Detroit Free Press cited the causes of the riot as racism, economic inequality, and poor housing.
3. Notting Hill Riots England, 1976
Riots with roots in racism and police brutality are not unique to the U.S. In 1976, during the West Indian carnival in Notting Hill, London, West Indian youths revolted against arbitrary mass arrests and began clashing with the police, throwing bottles and other objects at police and their vehicles. The causes for the riot are often cited as an occupational police presence and unemployment among the West Indian youths.
2. Los Angeles Riots, 1992
One of the most prominent riots of the 20th Century was the 1992 civil insurrection sparked by the acquittal of four officers in the videotaped beating of Black motorist Rodney King. After the officers were acquitted, African Americans began to protest at the Los Angeles County courthouse and LAPD headquarters. A large group of Black citizens convened at the corner of Florence and Normandie confronted a group of officers, who then retreated because they were outnumbered. By the evening the crowd on Florence and Normandie began looting and attacking white motorists, including truck driver Reginald Denny.
Looting, arson and violence continued and eventually the National Guard was called in. The riots wound up killing 53 people and causing more the one billion dollars worth of damage.
The Christopher Commission sited the causes of the L.A. Riots as high unemployment, racial profiling and police brutality.
1. French Riots, 2005
In October of 2005, two teenagers in a Paris suburb were chased by police into a power station where the boys were electrocuted. Protests and unrest subsequently ensued. Civil unrest spread to poor housing projects in other parts of France including violence, arson and clashes with police.
Almost 9,000 cars were burned and 3,000 people were arrested and 126 policemen and firefighters were injured. The BBC listed the causes of the riot as unemployment and discrimination against immigrants.