Definition of a Riot
A riot is specifically a turbulent disturbance of public peace by groups of people attempting to loot stores, commit felonies, and destroy public property. Moreover, each person present in the riot shares one common cause.
Furthermore, there are a few limitations to riots. On the contrary, putting the moral purpose aside, there is no way for rioters to win, and each member of the large group knows it.
Rioting is not a revolutionary step, but it is a reactionary one because it calls out defeat. It incorporates an emotional, yet the wrong catharsis. Considering the example of a car’s lousy wheel that continuously drives you off the safe zone and tries its best to destroy you, what will you do?
You will replace the car wheel, of course. These examples relate to rioting and enlightening us about the fact that violence is never the answer to anything. Instead, we should use nonviolent techniques to apply for social change.
Yes, demonstrations, assemblies, and protests are protected and valued through the U.S. Constitution. Hence, if a group of people try to hurt people or destroy property, then the law does not abide by such behavior.
What Do You Mean by Riots?
Martin Luther King Jr. once described riots as “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
Whenever we witness a riot on the news or streets, we quickly start to judge people who feel oppressed or socially excluded. These types of people are the ones who believe leaving a red mark on the place of the riot will catch the eyes of people.
Everything aside, can you ignore a group of people looting markets, threatening or misbehaving with the police, and overturning cars?
The answer is: NO, YOU CAN’T! Somehow, each of these actions represents different situations and decisions made by the authorities. That is why the rioters turn into a group of angry monsters.
How Riots Work: The Causes
Riots vary from demonstrations or lawful protest due to the violence that occurs. Besides that, they are often disorganized and chaotic. You can receive an open invitation to join a protest or organize a meaningful assembly. Still, riots are more about mental breakdowns and massive psyche bonds between individuals.
The people who take part in a riot are mostly strangers, but when it comes to linking and sharing a cause, they all instantly become one. Moreover, race and poverty are the two primary bedrocks of riots.
People who are unaware of economic opportunities are the ones to participate in riots as they have nothing to lose. On the other hand, upper and middle-class people avoid disturbances because they can easily create problems in their livelihood.
In most riots, race becomes a common issue when different ethnicity feel socially excluded. In contrast, another ethnicity throws a different opinion on the former’s approach. In both of these social problems, rioters feel left out and unaccepted by the government.
Riots – Are they Justifiable for Change?
The feeling of being an outcast can immediately lead to mob ganging, which ultimately leads to forming an alliance against the government and doing things they are not supposed to do. Therefore, rioting is one of those things.
We’ve been participating in protests to have a better future, but that doesn’t always work out. In most cases, riots have created some of the most significant revolutionary changes in history. In contrast, in other cases, it has led to destruction and loss of lives. Hence, there is no right or wrong path to rioting.
If you believe that riots are suitable for democracy, they often ignite a spark in individuals hungry for a change in this God-forsaken world. But before convincing yourself that disturbances are healthy, you must know that riots are complicated and uncoordinated group activities.
When things don’t fall in place calmly, rioting seems to be the next best thing for protestors. Rioting is not always the right thing to do, but when it is, it may cause a significant sustainable change.
Let us walk you through everything there is to know about riots and whether they fit in certain situations.
Rioting in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the many places where anti-government protests have occupied for months, and now the present situation seems to be totally out of control.
At the beginning of June, thousands of peaceful protestors joined hands to protest against the lawful rights of extraditions for the Chinese mainland. Unfortunately, the word “peaceful” is out of the picture now, as individuals are moving towards rioting and causing disturbances in the street. Like every other country that likes to hear loud, Hong Kong is yet another masterpiece.
As soon as the list of demands increased in the semiautonomous territory, clashes between the protesters and police increased, which led to a more significant movement towards global importance.
Hong Kong has had a Unique Status in China.
Readers need to understand that Hong Kong has a unique and significantly different status from other Chinese cities. We may need to know the little brief history of Hong Kong to understand this concept entirely.
For about 150 years, Hong Kong was a British colony, and in 1842, it was given up by the UK. Later on, China decided to lease the rest of Hong Kong.
Since then, Hong Kong has been a busy city with thousands of dissidents and migrants fleeing poverty, persecution, and instability in mainland China. After a lot of struggle, Hong Kong established its legal borders and systems and other rights, including freedom of speech, press and assembly.
Even after the entire struggle and comprises, Hong Kong still lacks acceptance. It is still on the decline. That is why every individual of Hong Kong is protesting for equal rights.
It all started as a protest against an extradition bill and transformed into a war for the future of Hong Kong. Individuals are not just rioting their local government, but they are challenging China.
What Started Rioting in Hong Kong?
As said above, the beginning was peaceful, but when things got out of control, rioting began.
The amendments were on time by the horrible case of a Hong Kong man who strangled his pregnant girlfriend and put her dead body in a suitcase in Taiwan. Although this happened in 2018, no one took action against it. Since Taiwan and Hong Kong do not have a formal extradition treaty, the man could not go to Taiwan.
The Hong Kong government took hold of this case and used it as bait to generate amendments that would enable case-by-case extraditions that do not have treaties with Hong Kong.
Additionally, that included China, which imprisons its people if they ever displease the law. All the critics and journalists thought that China would misuse this law to control the people of Hong Kong – especially those who protest against their legitimate rights.
Due to this situation, the Hongkongers started protesting, and since peacefully protesting didn’t work out, violence became the answer. Now, rioters want universal suffrage, meaning a legitimate opportunity to choose their leaders.
Riots in LA
What Erupted the Anger?
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr:
“A Riot is the language of the unheard.” Los Angeles is currently one of the trending places in the world where injustice is now becoming common. Right after the death of George Floyd, protestors in L.A. burned down police precincts, looted businesses, and shops in response to Floyd’s misfortune death.
The bitter truth is, no one can beat the odds of what comes from causing a riot. Of course, it appears as a brutal and insufficient way of bringing a change, but that is what people do when they feel disempowered.
When it comes to identifying the reasons behind these crises, you will find a whole book that represents ever act of injustice with minorities – these are the causes of riots.
In California, Los Angeles, four police officers caught beating an innocent and defenseless African American motorist was sentenced “not guilty” after the video went viral. A few hours after the news of letting the police officers go, L.A. riots began.
The protesters of South-central Los Angeles started to beat motorists, loot numerous buildings and stores, and block freeways to start hundreds of fires.
After receiving chaos from the protestors, that’s when the law decided to change their statement. Every one of the L.A. riots had a significant meaning to the death of the African American.
One line we will all remember till the end of time is when the man who suffered the brutality of police officers said, “Can’t we all get along?” Yes, most of you should know by now that this is from Rodney King. That triggered rioting in L.A.
To this day, Rodney King is considered responsible for the spark in racial abuses in the system, and not just because of the suffering he had to go through. All of the L.A. riots lasted for three days, and it was known to be one of the most mayhem public uprisings in the twentieth-century.
We’re talking hundreds of people dying, fires that resulted in the death of more than 50 people. When this riot was over, 1 billion dollars for property damage were carried out.
However, there was and still is a lot of existing racial tension in L.A., and the situation was already critical, it just needed a boost. Hence, the Rodney king’s incident is what triggered the L.A. riots in the first place.
Rioting isn’t only the language of stereotypes or people who engage in destruction, but it often needs to be done. Think about it, without protesting, was there any other way to bring those innocent African Americans to justice? No!
This world responds well to chaos and destruction, which is why the people of L.A. chose to riot for the deserving. Until there is another way for the youth to express aggression towards society, the threats of burning cities down will never go away.
Rioting in America
Undoubtedly, America was discovered in riots. Remember the days of propelling British tax collectors and tar when citizens were unaware of their rights and did what the rulers told them to?
Well, now the guts and fists of American citizens are more substantial and wiser. They fight power with power, attempting violence when their voices go unheard.
Times have changed the lifestyle of Americans, but there is little to no change in their tradition to pick violence over everything. These days, protestors don’t even try to speak up; they start creating a riot all around and hope for someone to notice them.
Unfortunately, our country only responds when some destruction occurs, such as rioting. It is hard to think of any progress to happen from these stressful activities.
So, the question stands; can rioting in America improve conditions? If yes, then how?
You are more probable to get a YES in 1921 from the white residents of Tulsa when you ask them whether riots have improved lives or not.
Considering the burning down of the Black Wall Street as a military attack for unproven black criminality, every resident thought it was a necessary attempt for the stability and safety of their communities.
When we come to the recent black uprisings, they are not the same as before. However, they do represent a significant continuity between America’s present and past, the constant bickering of pat-downs, jump-outs, and drug aids.
Unfortunately, these allegations are not categorized as a justification for violence because these do not violate the law.
Is Rioting a Felony?
According to the first amendment, one of the primary rights of Americans is to have free speech, which means citizens are allowed to protest against specific issues.
On the other hand, if a protest turns into something ugly, a riot, the right to free speech is no longer valid. Believe it or not, such an action is a felony, and it depends on how it happens and where you are.
U.S. Laws that Forbid Riots
According to a book about laws from Iowa, rioting is brutal, and it deserves a penalty. The book defines riots as a group of people coming together to create violence.
That said, if you and your friend are somewhere in a mall and your friend starts to hit trash cans and furniture with a bat, your friend would be arrested. Nothing will happen to you because you did not participate in the attempt.
Furthermore, let’s say a third party joins you and your friend, and begin to throw rocks at the windows of shops and businesses. In that case, your behavior will be noted as rioting.
As for the further explanation, a riot does not comprise of three or more people attempting to destroy public property; it is much more than that:
- Threatening innocent bystanders
- Disturbing people
- Using violence or lawful commandment to someone
If you as so much as disrupting the rioting laws, there is a possibility of you getting an aggravated misdemeanor. Moreover, the punishments of riot include a fine of $1000 to $65000 or two years in prison.
When it comes to more Iowa laws, they probit three or more people from participating in a riot and getting together. That is what we call an unlawful or meaningless assembly. A group of
people are charged with this crime if they come along intending to create a public disturbance.
However, rioting is different than meaningless assembly because the latter does not incorporate the use of force against a person or destroying public property. In clear words, an unlawful assembly is considered a traditional misdemeanor.
Although these are still serious, and the penalties for conviction are less worse than the ones for rioting. Other than that, a sentence involves a minor fine, and you may even have to spend a month in jail.
The View of American Citizens on Rioting
White people may not always have the same interests as the blacks, but they both agree on one thing very well; protesting for their rights when they receive unfair treatment.
In this wretched era of a pandemic, on the verge of new elections and the beginning of a socio-economic crisis, America should lessen its emphasis from losing support in institutions. Nowadays, people will believe whatever you tell them to do, which is the weak point of every American.
Sad to say, Americans look at each other with pure rage and anger. We must avoid aggression and practice a calm attitude towards everything. Of course, rioting can sometimes deliver positive results, but that’s like a “once in a blue moon” kind of situation. CWP