A riot is a type of civil disorder that is characterized by disorganized groups meeting out intense and sudden violence against people, property, or authority. Riots are chaotic and lead to the destruction of property, vandalism, loss of lives, and injuries. Riots result from dissenting people or people reacting towards perceived grievances (Thomson 14). Most riots occur when people are protesting against government taxation or oppression, poor working and living conditions, demanding higher salaries, religious or ethnic differences, and sporting hooliganism among others. Confrontations normally arise between the rioting crowd and the authorities, who try to restore calm and peace within the vicinity where the riot is taking place.
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Opinion about Riots
Although many people justify the use of riots in expressing their grievances, I am totally opposed to this criminal behavior. First of all, rioting leads to the destruction of property, looting, injuries, and deaths. Rioters mete out their rage on innocent businesses and end up looting or setting a private property on fire. It is hypocritical for a rioter to demonstrate against unemployment, while at the same time engaging in destroying the livelihood of another human being and denying him or her employment as well. Riot scenes are characterized by littered streets, burnt-out vehicles, broken glasses, smashed-up windows, and fires (Sharma 12). This wanton destruction of private property, looting or torching does not solve the problem at hand be it government discrimination or oppression, but only damages people’s livelihoods. Riots also put a lot of pressure on the insurance industry as these companies receive numerous claims from the businesses that are destroyed looted or torched. Not only do riots lead to deaths and injuries of innocent people, but they also make people incur extra unplanned medical expenses. People have also been maimed or left disabled as a result of riots. This shows that riots are of no economic benefits to the country and the community at large since they only leave a massive trail of destruction (Thomson 14).
Flawed long-term government policies that often lead to social inequalities within a country have been a platform for many riots. However, rioting alone has never provided a solid solution to social problems such as unemployment, inadequate housing, or a rise in poverty levels. Such problems need a multi-faceted approach that incorporates all the relevant stakeholders so as to come up with long-term sustainable solutions. Rioting does not guarantee that the other party will look into the grievances put forward or address them fully (Sharma 12).
Riots are worse than epidemics since if they are not controlled, they spread in many places over a short period of time. The mayhem, destruction of property, and violence spread over a large area within a very short period of time and if left unchecked, riots can lead to full-blown civil unrest. For example, the 2011 UK riots started at Tottenham after the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, a black man by a police officer. Soon afterward, the riots spread to other London suburbs and towns and across cities such as Gloucester, Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool. If the riots were not contained, they would have spread to the rest of the country creating chaos and civil unrest (Sharma 13).
Riots create a state of lawlessness and most of the time, criminals take advantage of the situation to commit crimes and wreak havoc. Rapes, murders, arson, muggings, and looting are common crimes committed during riots. This is because criminals blend in with the crowds and feel that when they are in a group, it is highly unlikely that one single individual can be caught or face retribution (Sharma 12).
Riots are commonly used to make a statement and yield power. Rioters feel powerful in an environment where they don’t yield much power, as they move around in large crowds causing havoc and damages. This euphoric feeling that causes an adrenaline rush entices a lot of people who would not normally do this, to join the riots (Todd 33). People participating in riots sometimes get caught up in the herd mentality and perceive this as acceptable behavior. They shed off their ethics as the herd mentality takes over and engage in bizarre and aggressive behaviours that they can never exhibit on their own. (Todd 34).
Sharma, Rik. “London riots: is there any justification?” The Huffington Post: London, 2011: 12-13.
Thomson Nelson. The criminal event: an introduction to criminology in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2003.
Todd, Douglas. “Opinion of psychology of a riot, they found it exciting”. The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, 2011: 33-34.