Why is Rioting the Answer in America? by Sarah Porter

“A Riot is the Language of the Unheard” 


The events that are happening around this nation right now are historical. As the death of George Floyd has sparked protests and riots across the nation we’re seeing people standing up for the unjust treatment that has held people of color and minorities down for too long. 

It’s not just a fight for George Floyd.

It’s the fight against systematic racism. 

It’s the fight against oppression. 

It’s the fight for human rights. 

I’m sure your social media has been full of news and opinions about the current events. We’re seeing less of the peaceful protests and more of the content that shows people burning down buildings, destroying police cars, and rioting in the streets. 

You’ve also been able to see people’s opinions on rioting. 

Maybe you’ve read comments like: 

Why fight fire with fire? 

How is fighting against violence with violence going to make a difference? 

Isn’t there a better way to show that you’re angry than by destroying businesses? 

Rioting can be a difficult concept to understand. 

Of course, it’s awful to see someone’s local business go up in flames. But it’s also awful to see yet another person die in the hands of a police officer. 

Peaceful protests have been happening for years in response to racial inequality and no significant changes have been made. 


Maybe you think handling things with violence isn’t the answer, and you may be right. But if we’re going to learn one thing from history, it’s that riots bring awareness to a cause and can encourage change where it would otherwise not be seen. Especially in America.


Let’s take a look at some of the historic riots that have happened in this country that worked to bring change. 


3 Significant Riots in America


  1. The Boston Riots of 1967


Sadness, anger, and disgust at the racial inequality in the city of Boston sparked some of the biggest and most violent riots America had ever seen. The tensions that had been building up spewed over as a primarily black establishment was targeted and patrons were being arrested.


The crowds began to grow as people ran the streets looting and destroying property with the goal of bringing awareness to the inequality and discrimination of people of color within the city. 


In response, the city of Boston put in place stricter hiring laws for the police department, ensuring to recruit people of color and minorities. They began putting in place fair housing legislation and government departments began recruiting non-white people to work alongside them. 


Granted this didn’t solve all of the problems in Boston and around the nation, but it did prove that their rioting was worth something. It brought change that wouldn’t have occurred if they simply accepted the injustices. 


  1. The Stonewall Riots of 1969


The LGBTQ community was outraged at their unfair arrests and unequal treatment. Having to hide their lives from public scrutiny in the fear that they’d be arrested they decided it was time to fight back.


 A group of men belonging to the LGBTQ community refused their arrests at the Stonewall Inn in New York, as their anger increased the police had to barricade themselves in the bar to protect themselves. 


Other people began to join in on the riots and their fight for change continued on for 6 days. 


The Stonewall Riots were seen as the catalyst for the fight of rights for the LGBTQ community. They were no longer going to hide in the shadows and take the unfair treatment put on them. Advocacy groups began to form and the first gay parade happened in November of that same year.


  1. The Mount Pleasant Riots of 1991 


A Salvadoran man was shot in the chest by a rookie police officer after a Cinco De Mayo celebration. In response, people began fighting the police, destroying their vehicles, and looting stores late into the night. The rioting continued for two nights as people fought for the black and Latinx communities affected by racial discrimination. 


After the riots occurred, the hiring of Latinx police officers increased in the Mount Pleasant area. New policies were put in place for police conduct and an agreement was established to not ask citizens about their immigration status.


It’s important to remember that the fight is always deeper than the current issue. The death of George Floyd is another name added to the long list of minorities that have died for unjust reasons. It’s not just angry people wanting to destroy things. It’s people fighting for their rights and fighting against an unjust system. 


And you can help.


Whether you’ve been out protesting in the streets or not, you can use your platforms to help in the fight for change. Whether it be signing petitions, donating to causes, reposting informational insights, and speaking out against injustices, your small actions will help the movement. 


We as a people can stand together to fight the evilness that runs to the core of this country. You can help bring a change and take part in the writing of our history.