Detroit Riots Of 1967
Between July 23 and 27, 1967, Detroit descended into chaos. Upset at years of mistreatment in terms of housing, employment, and police practices, and spurred on by a violent police raid on one after hours club on July 23, thousands of African-Americans and like-minded supporters took to the streets in what became the third largest civil disturbance in American history.
Ultimately, after intervention from the local police, the National Guard, and the Army, the riot ended with damages including 43 dead, 1,189 injured, 7,200 arrested, and 2,000 buildings destroyed.-/AFP/Getty Images
Crown Heights Riot
On August 19, 1991, a car in the motorcade of Jewish leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson struck Gavin and Angela Cato, the children of Guyanese immigrants, killing the former and injuring the latter in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The incident ignited longstanding local tensions between Jews and African-Americans, leading to a three-day riot that saw arson, looting, nearly 200 injuries, one murder, and more than 100 arrests.Eli Reed/Magnum Photos
The 2016 Charlotte Protests
Immediately following the September 20, 2016 shooting of African-American man Keith Lamont Scott by police in Charlotte, the city endured three days of riotous clashes between demonstrators and police. As the police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets, the governor declared a state of emergency. Thankfully, only one person was killed amid the unrest, while dozens more lay injured. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
The New York City Draft Riots
The New York City Draft Riots of July 13-16, 1863 remain, to this day, the largest and most catastrophic civil disturbances in the history of the United States. Working class men, both upset that wealthier men could pay their way out of the imminent Civil War draft and afraid that the slaves newly freed by the Emancipation Proclamation would take their jobs, lashed out at the authorities running the draft as well as African-Americans throughout the city.
While completely accurate casualty estimates aren't available, historians agree that well over 100 people died and another 2,000 or more suffered injuries.New York Public Library
The Harlem Riot Of 1964
In late July 1964, Harlem faced six days of rioting following the shooting of a 15-year-old African-American boy, James Powell, by a police officer.
Accounts vary wildly as to whether or not the officer was in any way justified in the shooting, but what is certain is that approximately 4,000 New Yorkers, largely angry at mistreatment of African-Americans in the city, took to the streets and clashed with police until hundreds were injured and hundreds more arrested.Dick DeMarsico/New York World Telegraph & Sun/Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots
On March 3, 1991, following a high-speed traffic stop in the Lake View Terrace section of Los Angeles, four city police officers beat the driver, an African-American named Rodney King, not realizing that a nearby citizen was videotaping the incident.
Even with the tape, on April 29, 1992 the jury returned guilty verdicts for none of the four officers. Outraged at this incident and years of police injustice like it, thousands took to the streets in riots that lasted six days, killed 55, injured more than 2,000, and put more than 11,000 in handcuffs.HAL GARB/AFP/Getty Images
The San Francisco State Strike
Starting in late 1968, the students of San Francisco State College initiated the longest student strike in American history. Upset at the lack of ethnic diversity in both courses offered and faculty hired, students stopped attending classes and started protesting.
When police were called in, the clashes between them and students often turned violent. While this episode doesn't number among the country's most violent, it did help usher in the wave of ethnic studies programs that most universities take for granted today.Underwood Archives/Getty Images
The Haymarket Square Riot
Perhaps the most important labor demonstration in American history and the origin of today's May Day observances for workers worldwide, the Haymarket Square Riot of May 4, 1886 pitted protestors against Chicago police in a bloody clash that left 11 dead and more than 100 injured.
The trouble began when workers gathered to both campaign for an eight-hour work day and protest recent killings of workers by the police. After one rioter threw a bomb at the police attempting to quell the disorder, the violence erupted immediately.Harper's Weekly via Wikimedia Commons
Disenfranchised African-Americans in Newark, upset in particular at the ill treatment they received from police, reached their breaking point in July 1967. After police were seen beating an African-American cab driver, angry crowds hit the streets for six days of violence and destruction that left 26 dead, hundreds injured, and more than 1,000 arrested.-/AFP/Getty Images
Democratic National Convention Riots, 1968
Between August 22 and 30, 1968 more than 10,000 protestors — largely those opposed to the Vietnam War and many from the anti-establishment Youth International Party — flocked to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where their clashes with the police and National Guard often turned violent.
On August 28, after police began beating a man who had attempted to take down an American flag, the most infamous and violent night of the entire episode began. Authorities battled with civilians right there in the street outside the hotel where the delegates were staying, all in front of live television cameras.Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images
Memphis Riots Of 1866
One of many Reconstruction-era riots fueled by tensions between newly freed slaves and white immigrants competing over jobs and housing, this particularly bloody incident in May 1866 should most likely be known as a massacre.
Angry at the African-American Union soldiers patrolling their city, scores of Memphian whites, including many Irish immigrant policemen, roamed the city for three days, robbing, assaulting, and killing as many African-Americans as they could find. Ultimately, 46 lay dead, while 91 African-American homes, 12 African-American schools, and four African-American churches sat in ruins. Alfred Rudolph Waud/Harper's Weekly via Wikimedia Commons
The Ferguson Unrest
On August 9, 2014, a white officer of the Ferguson, Missouri police department named Darren Wilson shot and killed an 18-year-old African-American man named Michael Brown, igniting mass unrest over police treatment of African-Americans that persisted in several waves throughout the city for months afterward. Following rioting resulting in a state of emergency just after the shooting, some of the most violent incidents -- including arson, looting, and assault -- occurred in late November (pictured), when the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson.Scott Olson/Getty Images
The 1968 Washington, D.C. Riots
On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. In the days and weeks that followed, devastated demonstrators in more than 100 cities across the U.S. hit the streets in a wave of rioting that remains unprecedented in the nation's history. Cities hit hardest by the rioting included Washington, D.C. (where 1,000 were injured and 6,000 were arrested).Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images
The 1968 Pittsburgh Riots
In Pittsburgh, arsonists set 500 fires and the authorities were forced to call in 3,600 National Guardsmen.Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images
The 1968 Chicago Riots
In Chicago, 11 died while $10 million worth of property lay damaged and thousands ended up homeless.Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images
The 1968 Baltimore Riots
In Baltimore, the property damage was even worse, with $12 million worth in ruins. All in all, the riots of April 1968, in terms of breadth and scope, can be compared to little else in American history.Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images
Astor Place Riot
Throughout the 19th century, New York City saw countless riots that pitted the city's rapidly growing immigrant population against the nativists who sought to keep those immigrants out.
Among the deadliest of all these incidents was the Astor Place Riot of May 10, 1849. A rivalry between a British actor, William Charles Macready, and an American one, Edwin Forrest, at the Astor Opera House tapped into deeper resentments between the largely Anglophile upper classes and the Americanized lower class immigrants. These resentments came to a head when 10,000 showed up to the theater for a Macready performance on May 10, tearing it apart and killing several dozen people in an all-out class war.New York Public Library
The Bonus Army
After World War I, thousands of poor, neglected soldiers were given certificates for bonus pay -- that couldn't be redeemed until 1945. But in 1932, during the throes of the Great Depression and upset at having to wait another decade before receiving their money, 17,000 veterans and another 26,000 supporters marched on Washington, D.C. and set up camp on various government properties so that their voices would be heard.
The government responded by calling in thousands of soldiers and policemen, along wth tanks, resulting in clashes that left more than 1,000 injured and the veterans still without their bonuses.U.S. Army/National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
With mass killings across several dozen cities, the "Red Summer" of 1919 ranks among the largest waves of violence in U.S. history. In places like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas, poor whites and African-Americans, many of them recently demobilized World War I veterans, had begun competing for scarce jobs and housing.
That competition, fueled by underlying race and class hatred, turned deadly as scores of whites attacked African-Americans (and, rarely, vice versa), killing as many as nearly 300 nationwide throughout the summer and early fall.Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
The Orange Riots
In July 1870, tensions between New York's relatively upper class and deeply rooted Irish Protestants and relatively lower class and newly arrived Irish Catholics came to a head when the latter group attacked the former's parade. The following July, despite failed governmental attempts to prevent such chaos again, the violence was even worse. Militiamen, police, and civilians clashed for hours, with more than 60 ultimately ending up dead. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
Atlanta Race Riot Of 1906
Another race riot that's likely better characterized as a massacre, the Atlanta incidents of September 1906 saw anywhere from a few dozen to nearly 100 African-Americans killed by local whites.
Amid a context of growing white resentment toward African-Americans over their increasing share of the job market and political power, whites became outraged following newspaper reports of four white women being sexually assaulted allegedly by African-American men. Violence ensued until a militia was able to restore order -- but not before copious damage was done. Le Petit Journal/National Library of France via Wikimedia Commons
Columbia University, 1968
Between April 23 and 30, New York's Columbia University, one of many campuses to endure rioting in 1968, descended into civil war over issues related to both the Vietnam War and civil rights.
For eight days, two different protest groups -- one rebelling against Columbia's plans for a segregated gym and its encroachment into Harlem, the other against Columbia's recently revealed connections to a Department of Defense-affiliated weapons think tank -- battled with both student counter-protestors and the police. The police eventually moved in with tear gas to put an end to the unrest.Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images
The Chinese Massacre
It was the largest mass lynching in American history. On October 24, 1871, with anti-Chinese discrimination at a high, a mob of some 500 white men entered Los Angeles' Chinatown in search of vengeance for the accidental death of a local white rancher at the hands of several Chinese men.
In full view of hundreds of witnesses, the mob then tortured and killed between 17 and 20 Chinese immigrants. Despite those witnesses -- and possibly with help from some local politicians -- none of the perpetrators ever saw the inside of a jail cell. Los Angeles Public Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Boston Massacre
Among the most well-known civil disturbances in U.S. history, the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770 pitted British soldiers against colonial revolutionaries in one of the key precipitating incidents in the run-up to the Revolutionary War.
The trouble began when several colonists, upset at unpopular legislation and taxation from the British Parliament, surrounded a British sentry stationed in the city to restore order. As the mob grew agitated, several soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five and wounding others. Leading Patriots like Paul Revere (partially responsible for the famous engraving pictured here) and Samuel Adams then used the incident to help stoke revolutionary fervor in the colonies, thus altering the course of American history forever.Library of Congress
The 2015 Baltimore Riots
As police violence against African-Americans made headlines in cities across the U.S., the Baltimore Police Department came under fire in April 2015 over the death of a 25-year-old African-American man named Freddie Gray, who died of spinal injuries sustained while in police custody.
Following Gray's death on April 19, the city came under a state of emergency as protestors clashed with police, looted stores, and set fires over the next two weeks. The aftereffects spread into the following month, which saw the second highest number of murders in the recorded history of Baltimore.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The Memorial Day Massacre Of 1937
On May 30, 1937, striking laborers of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee marched toward Chicago's Republic Steel mill, upset that the company had refused a union contract. When the police blocked their path, the confrontation soon grew violent, with police fatally shooting ten, permanently disabling nine, and wounding dozens of others.National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
The Stonewall Riots
New York's Stonewall Riots of June 28, 1969 are, with good reason, often cited as the inciting moment of the gay rights movement. Upset at regular police raids on the Stonewall Inn, an LGBT bar in Greenwich Village, patrons reacted violently to the police incursion that occurred there in the early morning hours of June 28. The crowd hurled garbage, lit fires, and brawled with the police that night and the next. Soon, the gay rights movement had a new notoriety and newly formed activist groups ushered the movement into full force.Joseph Ambrosini/New York Daily News via Wikimedia
The Cincinnati Courthouse Riots Of 1884
Struggling at the time with rising crime resulting from political corruption and poor labor conditions, Cincinnati was fed up with widespread injustice by the time that a jury, despite overwhelming evidence, failed to return a murder verdict in one infamous homicide case on March 26, 1884.
A mob whose strength eventually reached 10,000 stormed the jail in search of the killer on March 28. Despite hundreds of police and militiamen and the blockade they'd built around the jail, rioters managed to destroy the courthouse (pictured, along with the blockade) as well as carry out a wave of arson and looting before the storm subsided on March 30.Wikimedia Commons
The Boston Tea Party
Like the Boston Massacre, this December 16, 1773 event helped bring about the Revolutionary War and thus cement its own central place in American history.
A protest of the Tea Act and of Britain's taxation without representation policies in the colonies as a whole, the demonstration began when a group of men destroyed a shipment of British tea by tossing it off its ship and into the harbor. The British soon responded with acts ending Massachusetts' self-government, thus hastening the coming of the revolution.Nathaniel Currier/Wikimedia Commons
The Detroit Race Riots
As America leapt into World War II, the industrial center of Detroit became essential to the war effort, drawing in about 400,000 migrants both white and African-American from the South between 1941 and 1943.
With jobs thus becoming scarce and the city becoming crowded, racial tensions soared as whites sought to keep African-Americans out of their neighborhoods. Finally, on June 20, 1943, fueled by false rumors of racially motivated attacks, mobs of the poor from both races began clashing with police and each other. The fighting lasted three days and left 34 dead, many of them African-Americans at the hands of police.Arthur S. Siegel/Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
New Orleans Riot Of 1866
Yet another Reconstruction-era riot fueled by white fear and resentment of the newly freed African-Americans and the power they could now hold, the New Orleans Riot of July 30, 1866 saw the killings of 44 African-American marchers who'd been demonstrating outside the Louisiana Constitutional Convention.
The federal government's outrage at this violence helped persuade them to pass the Fourteenth Amendment (full citizenship for freedmen) and the Reconstruction Act (military oversight of the South) soon after.New York Public Library
Houston Riot Of 1917
Ever since the primarily African-American 24th Infantry Regiment arrived at Camp Logan in the segregated city of Houston, they faced hostility.
Things turned violent on August 23, 1917, when two Houston police officers assaulted two African-American members of the regiment. Soon, the entire regiment marched into Houston, killing 16 people (including four policemen) before reconsidering and stopping their charge. Regiment leader Sergeant Vida Henry killed himself that night, while 19 faced execution for their actions and 41 received life sentences at trial (pictured).National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
Philadelphia Nativist Riots
In two incidents in May and July 1844, Philadelphia nativists upset at the increasing number and influence of Irish Catholic immigrants instigated deadly riots that left at least 20 dead and two Catholic churches destroyed. H. Bucholzer/Library of Congress
The Tulsa Race Riot
After World War I, as Tulsa, Oklahoma's whites sought to maintain dominance over the segregated city's upwardly mobile black population, tensions soared.
On May 21, 1921, when a rumor circulated that a young black man had sexually assaulted a young white woman, a mob of white men took to the streets looking for vengeance, causing scores of black men to fight back.
Over the next two days, the city became a veritable war zone with gunfights and fires that destroyed more than 35 city blocks and killed anywhere from a few dozen to 300 (estimates vary wildly).Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
The Doctors' Riot
In post-Revolutionary War New York City, it was common for doctors and medical students to rob the graves of slaves and poor whites in order to procure cadavers.
In April 1788, when several children witnessed medical student John Hicks of New York Hospital (pictured) doing that very thing, a mob that eventually grew to 2,000 strong stormed the hospital, forced many of the city's doctors into hiding, and did battle with the militiamen called in to restore order, ultimately leaving as many as 20 dead.Joel Tyler Headley/British Library via Wikimedia Commons
In some of the most widespread and destructive riots in U.S. history, angry mobs turned 46 square miles of Los Angeles into a war zone for five days in mid-August, 1965.
Upset at racial discrimination and police brutality, the city's African-American population grew further upset after the violent, public arrest of two young African-American men and their mother following a scuffle with police on August 11. Between 31,000 and 35,000 people then took to the streets in riots that left 34 dead, 1,032 injured, 3,438 arrested, and $40 million worth of property damaged.New York World-Telegram/Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons