Riots are characterized by the presence of a large gathering of people. Riots can be as a result of sporting activities, political activities, poor working conditions, government oppression, harsh living conditions, and conflict between religious or racial groups. Riots, whether in the urban or rural areas, are characterized by destruction of properties, injuries, arrests of civilians, and even deaths. Riots are frequently accompanied by violent activities, street marches, and mass action. The 20th century was characterized by several riots which left trails of destruction and death.
Some Of The Major 20th Century Riots
1984 Anti-Sikh Riots
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots were characterized by violence aimed at the Sikhs in India by the anti-Sikhs. The uprising and massacre were as a result of the killing of Indira Gandhi by her bodyguard who was a Sikh on October 31, 1984, as a reaction to the prime minister’s authorization for the military operation in the Golden Temple. The government of India reported the deaths to 2,800 including 2,100 deaths in Delhi where over 20,000 people also fled from the city. However, other independent sources placed the death toll closer to 8,000. The investigation agencies in India believe that the riot was organized with the help of the Delhi police and other prominent people in the government. The Indian Government is yet to prosecute people who they believe masterminded the killings.
1987 Mecca Incident
The 1987 Mecca incident was a mass clash between Saudi Arabian Forces and the Shia pilgrims who were demonstrating during the Hajj Pilgrimage. The riot occurred in Mecca on July 31, 1987, leading to the death of over 400 people including 315 pilgrims and 85 police officers. Thousands were also injured, many seriously. The incident arose from the tension that had grown between the Shia Iran and the Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Iranian had held demonstrations against the US and Israel since 1981, but in 1987 the Saudi Arabian police cordoned off parts of the demonstration routes. The action by the police led to the confrontation between them and the Pilgrims escalating to violent clashes and deadly stampedes. Both the police and the pilgrims continue to lay blame on each other to this date on the events of the violence.
1992 Los Angeles Riots
The 1992 Los Angeles riots was characterized by violence, looting, and destruction of property and took place in the Los Angeles County in 1992. The unrest began on April 29, 1992, in South Central Los Angeles after four officers of the police department in the county who had used excessive force in arresting Rodney King were acquitted. Thousands of people rioted for six days from the day of the announcement of the verdict with widespread violence, killings, stealing, and arson. The order was restored by the California Army National Guard and the 1st Marine Division with over 2,000 people injured and more than 10,000 arrested.
1967 Detroit Riot
The 1967 Detroit riot or 12th Street Riot began on the morning of July 23, 1967, with the police raid of an unlicensed bar which was known as the Blind Pig which was located north of the corner of the 12th Street. The confrontation between the police and the patrol attracted the attention of the observers evolving into one of the most destructive riots in the history of the US. The riot which ended after five days and left 43 people dead, 1,190 injured, and over 7,000 arrested. Thousands of buildings and properties were destroyed in the riot that was featured prominently in the media.
Riots With The Least Casualties
Almost all the riots in the 20th century have led to the loss of life, injuries, and arrests. Some of the riots with the lowest number of casualties include Hock Lee bus riot which took place in Singapore, Minneapolis General Strike of 1934, Ford Hunger March of Dearborn, Baltimore Riot of 1968, and Harlem Riot of 1943. Although these riots involved a large number of protesters, less than ten casualties were recorded. The low casualty was as a result of the less resistance experienced by officers who handled the riot and the time it took to end the riot.
What Was the Largest Riot of the 20th Century?
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots were characterized by violence aimed at the Sikhs in India by the anti-Sikhs. The uprising and massacre were as a result of the killing of Indira Gandhi by her bodyguard who was a Sikh on October 31, 1984, as a reaction to the prime minister’s authorization for the military operation in the Golden Temple. The government of India reported the deaths to 2,800 including 2,100 deaths in Delhi where over 20,000 people also fled from the city.
Largest Riots of the 20th Century
|Rank||Riot Name||Location||Year||Death Toll (Est.)|
|1||1984 anti-Sikh Riots||India||1984||8,000|
|2||Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989||Beijing, China||1989||3,000|
|4||58 Riots||Ceylon (Sri Lanka)||1958||1,500|
|6||May 1998 Riots of Indonesia||Indonesia||1998||1,000|
|7||Bombay Riots||Mumbai, India||1992-1993||900|
|8||Soweto Uprising||South Africa||1976||700|
|9||1987 Mecca incident||Mecca. Saudi Arabia||1987||400|
|10||Tulsa Race Riots||Tulsa, United States||1921||300|
|11||1979 Anti-Tamil Program||Sri Lanka||1977||300|
|12||Elaine Race Riot (Elaine massacre)||Elaine (AR), United States||1919||242|
|13||1993 Russian Constitutional Criss||Moscow, Russia||1993||187|
|14||1956 Ceylonese Riots||Sri Lanka||1956||150|
|15||Durban Riots||Durban, South Africa||1949||142|
|16||Tunisian Bread Riots||Tunisia||1983-1984||140|
|17||1986 Egyptian conscripts Riot||Egypt||1986||107|
|18||Hamburg Uprising||Hamburg, Germany||1923||100|
|19||Bloody Sunday||St. Petersburg, Russia||1905||96|
|20||1977 Egyptian Bread Riots||Egypt||1977||79|
|21||Hong Kong 1956 Riots||Hong Kong||1956||59|
|22||1992 Los Angeles Riots||Los Angeles, United States||1992||55|
|23||Léopoldville Riots||Republic of the Congo||1959||49|
|24||East St. Louis Riots||St. Louis, United States||1917||48|
|25||Chicago race riot of 1919||Chicago, United States||1919||38|
|26||1964 Race Riots in Singapore||Singapore||1964||36|
|27||Detroit race riot||Detroit, United States||1943||34|
|28||Watts Riots||Watts, Los Angeles, United States||1965||34|
|29||New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot||Sante Fe, United States||1980||33|
|31||1967 Newark Riots||Newark, United States||1967||28|
|32||Cairo Fire||Cairo, Egypt||1952||26|
|33||Novocherkassk Massacre||Soviet Union||1962||26|
|34||Athens Polytechnic Uprising||Athens, Greece||1973||24|
|35||1967 Detroit Riot||Detroit, United States||1967||23|
|36||Gazi Quarter Riots||Istanbul, Turkey||1995||23|
|37||1927 Nagpur Riots||Nagpur, India||1927||22|
|38||1933 Palestine Riots||Palestine||1933||20|
|39||199 Sukhumi Riots||Sukhumi, Georgia||1989||20|
|40||Maria Hertogh Riots||Singapore||1950||18|
|41||1980 Miami Riots||Miami, United States||1980||18|
|42||Iranian Student Protests of July 1999||Iran||1999||17|
|43||Hibiya incendiary incident||Tokyo, Japan||1905||17|
|44||Bloody Sunday||Derry, Northern Ireland||1972||14|
|45||1989 Riots in Argentina||Argentina||1989||14|
|46||Chinese middle school riots||Sinapore||1956||13|
|47||1968 Chicago Riots||Chicago, United States||1968||11|
|48||Memorial Day massacre of 1937||Chicago, United States||1937||10|
|49||1920 Nebi Musa Riots||Jerusalem||1920||9|
|50||Rosewood massacre||Rosewood (FL), United States||1923||8|
|51||Harlem Riot of 1943||Harlem (NY), United States||1943||6|
|52||Baltimore Riot of 1968||Baltimore, United States||1968||6|
|53||Ford Hunger March||Dearborn (MI), United States||1932||5|
|54||Minneapolis General Strike of 1934||Minneapolis, United States||1934||4|
|55||Hock Lee bus riots||Singapore||1955||4|
About the Author
John Misachi is a seasoned writer with 5+ years of experience. His favorite topics include finance, history, geography, agriculture, legal, and sports.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.