Riots break out for a number of reasons. Political disputes, economic breakdowns, and police brutality are just a few of the troubles that plague the streets of poorly treated and neglected areas. Some of the world’s most insane riots have ended in bloodshed with a surplus of fatalities and will go down in history as the most deadly riots to date.
The 1988 Burma Uprising
The streets of Burma witnessed a deadly riot in 1988 that began with mass protests in the streets of Rangoon. Protesters were opposing the poor economic conditions that became increasingly worse under General Ne Win’s reign and military forced took to the streets to end the public demonstrations. After police lashed out at the protesters, the massive riot ensued and resulted in 3,000 deaths as well as the arrest of the riot’s leaders.
La Violencia 1948-60
La Violencia was a 12-year riot in Colombia that began after the assassination of Liberal politician Jorge Gaitan. The uprising resulted in 5,000 deaths and continued well into the 50s after the newly elected President Laureano Gomez implemented a government crackdown that practiced aggressive punishment on liberal rioters. By 1960, 200,000 citizens of Columbia died while protesting the poor economic conditions and unfair practice of the government.
The Indian Partition Of 1947
The Indian Partition of 1947 was a conflict of border control that was instigated by religious beliefs in the Muslim community after India won its independence from the British. The riots turned genocidal, targeting women and children as primary casualties, and prompted the British to introduce newly-created Pakistan as a Muslim country and India as a Hindu-practicing nation. 1,000,000 people died in the Indian Partition.
March 1st Movement In Korea
After Korea was annexed by Japan in 1919, the nation’s people turned against their corrupt, uninvited leaders. The March 1st Movement in Korea was one of the largest protests in human history, resulting in Japanese troops firing into civilian crowds and killing 7,500 people. The riot wasn’t as successful as the Koreans had hoped it would be but there was a new leniency in the rule structure implemented by the Japanese.
Anti-Austerity Movement In Greece
In 2012, mass riots essentially burned down the historic city of Athens in Greece. Grecians were protesting the economic slump experienced the nation in recent years and ended in a brutal fight against police who were using tear gas and fire bombs to disarm the protesters. 3,000 members of the police force were up against 100,000 angry protesters in the largest demonstration Greece had seen since 2010.
The Tibetan Uprising
The Tibetan Uprising of 1959 began after Chinese authority took over Tibet after World War II in an attempt to claim land rights and implement new government structure. The Dalai Lama was expected to attend a theater performance in the Chinese headquarters in 1959 but was abruptly stopped by 10,000 Tibetan followers believed to be protecting the influential figure. The Tibetan Uprising rose to full force when the Chinese government stripped the Dalai Lama’s palace after his no-show at the performance and the rebels rioted out of anger. After two days, 86,000 Tibetans lost their lives and were defeated by the Chinese.
The Jeju Uprising
The Jeju Uprising in South Korea took place from 1948-1949 after UN-backed elections of the Soviet Union were mistrusted by the island’s people. In 1948, after many attempts at peaceful protests, the Jejus began attacking government facilities in full-scale riots. The military took action and killed without inhibition, murdering one-fifth of the island’s population and burning almost every village to the ground. An estimated 600,000 Jejus lost their lives.
Flying Canes & Crushed Fedoras For Stravinsky
One of the most intriguing, yet frightening, elements of a riot is that it can occur for any reason, at any time. In 1913, Stravinsky’s premiere of “The Rite of Spring” proved to be a provocative and offensive ballet performance that set the audience off on a violent tangent. Police arrived at the theater at intermission to control the crowd but during the second act, the audience exploded in an uproar that resulted in a venue-wide brawl with flying fedoras and walking canes used as combat weapons.
The Nazi Sympathizers Movement
Another riot that took place in Classical Music history was the Nazi Sympathizers Disruption at Kurt Weill’s opera in 1930. “The Rise and Fall of the City in Mahogany” enraged right-wing activists and they stationed themselves in the opera’s audience. After the performance began, a riot broke out in the middle of the theater and police were called to the scene.
The England Riots (UK)
After the shooting of Mark Duggan on August 4th, 2011 by police officers a quiet march in North London turned into a violent riot. Lasting three-four days, Birmingham, Bristol, and Manchester experienced enraged crowds committing severe acts of vandalism that spread throughout the country. Five people died and 16 people were injured.
1968 Chicago Riots
After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the streets of Chicago turned into a tumultuous sea of violence. Particularly on the West Side, eventually spreading up Roosevelt Avenue, and the Mayor had to ban the sale of guns and flammable items to try and prevent further arson, looting, and murder. 11 people were killed and 125 fires were created by the time military troops quieted the streets.
The Bombay Riots
The Bombay Riots in India occurred in 1992 after the demolition of a Muslim Mosque in Babri. The Muslims attacked the Hindus after the desecration of their holy temple and the Hindus retaliated as they saw fit. Considered one of the worst riots of all time, 900 people died and the streets were left burning after numerous acts of arson.
The Tulsa Race Riot
The Tulsa Race Riot in 1921 was a race war that began after a white woman accused a black man of assaulting her in an elevator. Police and the white community demanded his capture and the black population rioted back as 35 blocks turned into a violent war zone. When the riots ended, 10,000 people were left homeless as a result of arson and the city was left with $1.8 million in property damage.
The Polish Football Riot
Football games can induce passionate emotions that quickly turn into rage. In 2003, a Polish football match turned ugly after “thugs posing as fans” infiltrated the stadium with knives and axes and started a riot. 120 people were arrested, three people were injured and one man was killed in the stadium brawl.
Kenilworth Road Riot, 1985
The Millwall Vs Luton Riot (football teams) occurred in 1985 after the two sides participated in a stadium brawl that graduated to a violent riot. The fans broke wooden seats to use them as weapons and soon charged the field and began throwing any and every object they could find at their sports enemies in between punches. The police were outnumbered by the rioters on the field.
The Gujarat Riot
In 2002, a Muslim mob attacked and set fire to a train that and killed 50 Hindu pilgrims, mostly identified as women and children. Retaliatory riots ensued where 750 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, and 223 people were reported missing. Many Hindus fled their homes and 523 places of worship were damaged in the attacks.
Detroit Riots, 1967
After police executed a raid on an after-hours drinking club in Detroit, widespread riots occurred all over the city to protest the unfair arrests of Vietnam war veterans. The National Guard and the 82nd Airborne Division were called in to control the violent crowds. When the riots calmed down 7,000 people were arrested, 1,200 people were injured and 43 people lost their lives.
Argentina Riots, 2001
The Argentina Riots of 2001 left 26 people dead. The riot was a result of a three-year recession brought on President Fernando de La Rua and the middle fraction of the social economic class lashed out in anger. The riot lasted two days.
The Nairobi Riots
The Nairobi Riots in Kenya broke out after President re-elect, Mwai Kikabi, took his place back into office after what was assumed to be a sham election. Violent demonstrators committed arson and used machetes to threaten those who opposed their force. 800 people were murdered, either by rioters or the police. This was the worst riot in West African history.
Massacre De Barrios Altos
The Massacre de Barrios Altos took place in Peru in 1991 over human rights violations committed by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. 15 people were killed and four were more injured at the hands of a militia death group called Grupo Colina. The government paid $3 million in restitution to the victims and their families.
LA Riots, 1992
After two police officers were acquitted of battering Rodney King, the streets of LA were literally set on fire. Thousands of Los Angeles residents rioted in the streets and committed arson, looting, murder, and assault for six days. 10 people were shot and killed by the police, along with 43 other casualties of the violent demonstration.
Carnegie Hall Commotion
The Carnegie Hall Commotion was set off by Steve Reich in 1973 when he played a repetitive symphony that irked that audience. The riot began with an elderly woman throwing her shoe at the composer and the remainder of the audience joined in to stop the musical piece from continuing. Fist fights broke out in the audience but Reich continued performing with the orchestra.
The Romanian Peasants’ Revolt
The Romanian Peasants’ Revolt erupted in 1907 with poor residents of the country rioting against wealthy landowners, particularly Jewish landowners. The attacks spread throughout the country and turned murderous in the Southern region of Romania. Conservative reign collapsed under pressure and the Liberals took over the government, resulting in complete control of the country and the rioters in just one week. The estimated death toll was 11,000.
The Bloody Week In France
The “Bloody Week in France” took place in 1871 on the streets of Paris. The Paris Commune was a group of rebels who fears the re-establishment of the French monarchy and as more communes grew around the country they incited a violent regime against the government. The Bloody Week of rioting, police against rebels, resulted in 400,000 people arrested and 20,000 people dead.
The Prague Football Riot
The Football Riot in Prague became deadly when unruly fans of the Czech and Croatian teams between throwing bottles, rock, and flares at each other. Fans began shooting at one another when the riot police entered the city square, leaving them outnumbered by the angry football lovers.
Birmingham vs. Leeds 1985
In 1985, the Birmingham vs. Leeds football match became violent when both teams and their fans engaged in a field brawl. The rioters were throwing wooden planks at one another and jumping fences to the other sides of the stadium. The riot expanded outside the stadium before police were able to calm the crowd and reduce the rage.
The Egypt Football Riot, 2012
The football riots in Port Said, Egypt ended with 70 deaths and the worst property damage in the city’s history. The Egypt courts sentenced 21 of the arrested rioters to death, as they were suspected of being hired hitmen instead of rowdy fans. It was the worst riot in football history.
The 228 Massacre
The 228 Massacre was a response to oppressive reign of the Chinese government over Taiwan after Japan was defeated in World War II. After a woman was arrested and beaten for selling cigarettes on the street, the Taiwanese people broke out into a violent riot. The government provided the illusion that it was negotiating with the rioters while they flew in military troops that would eventually kill an estimated 10-30,000 people.
The 1981 Brixton Riots
The Brixton Riots of 1981 occurred after the police tried to take a young black man to the hospital after he had been stabbed. Civilians were outraged as they tried to prevent the police from getting him to the hospital. One day later, riots emerged on the streets of Brixton and the riots damaged 150 buildings, 56 police cars, and 280 people were injured.
The Heysel Riot In Belgium
The Heysel Riot in Belgium took place during the 1985 European Cup Final when Liverpool fans began attacking the Juventus fans. Juventus fans tried to escape the stadium and stampeding Liverpool supporters, breaking down a nearby wall that crushed other spectators. 39 people were killed due to the falling wall or being trampled on and 350 were left injured.
El Salvadoran Peasant Uprising
The El Salvadoran Uprising occurred after the indigenous peasants of the coffee-producing nation were kicked out of their native land. The peasants led a revolt after El Salvador’s economy crumbled, and they demanded that immediate changes be made. The police and military began to slaughter anyone who resembled the indigenous people, in an effort to halt the revolts. The government killed an estimated 10,000-30,000 people.
The New York Draft Riots
The New York Draft Riots protested the newly-implemented, congressional laws that ordered selected men to fight in the Civil War. The protest turned in a deadly race riot that killed around 120 New York residents. When the riots ceased, many African Americans fled Manhattan and migrated to Brooklyn.
The Nika Revolts In Constantinople
The Nika Revolts in Constantinople were a series of riots that lasted a week in AD 532. Rioters were protesting the reign of Emperor Justinian the 1st and his dream of uniting the Roman Empire. The series of riots left the city burnt to the ground and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
The Sao Paulo Riots
Sao Paulo, Brazil became a war zone in 2016 after the impeachment of former Liberal President, Dilma Rousseff. Protestors took to the streets with homemade bombs and rioters were beaten forcefully by law enforcement. This is the most recent major riot in world history and lasted three days before coming to an end.
The Greek Stadium Riot
The Greek Stadium Riot of 2012 left nine police officers injured and 57 rioters arrested. Unruly football fans stormed the stadium with fire bombs, gasoline flares, and clubs, and engaged in a physical fight with the on-site police force. The stadium was completely lit on fire and was being contained by firefighters until the fans attacked them as well.
The Watts Riots, 1965
The 1965 Watts Riots took place after a team of policemen arrested an intoxicated black motorcyclist who failed to pass a sobriety test. Over the next couple of days, a race riot broke out over a 50-mile radius. 34 people died and over 1,000 were injured. The cost of property damage was over $40 million.
The Seattle Riot ,1999
The Seattle Riot of 1999, otherwise known as the Battle of Seattle, began as a series of demonstrations that protested the WTO Ministerial Conference negotiations. 40,000 protesters became violent in the Seattle streets and on December 1st, law enforcement agencies were called in to quiet the storm. 157 people were arrested but received overturned convictions after the city ruled that the government had infringed upon the residents’ right to the 4th amendment.
Oklahoma State Penitentiary Riot
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary Riot took place in 1973 when the prison was over capacity. On July 27th, prison inmates attacked two correctional officers in the cafeteria and a riot broke out. The inmates then held 21 officers hostage as the riot became increasingly violent and the full-scale brawl lasted until August 4th. By the time the state was able to get things under control there were $20 million in property damages to take care of.
The 2001 Cincinnati Riots
The Cincinnati Riots of 2001 erupted after the city’s residents were outraged over the shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old African American named Timothy Thomas.The riots were the largest disturbance in the modern history of an urban city and cost $3.6 million in property damage. Two deaths were recorded in the riots, as well as many incidents of police brutality and cases of racial profiling.