When Crowds Erupt: 30 Startling Facts About Riots

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1Ghana riot

Ghana riot

In January 1997, the capital of Ghana rioted over accusations of penis snatching wizards. Several people were killed by mobs who accused them of using magic handshakes to kidnap penises and hold them for ransom.

2. Ten Cent Beer Night was an MLB game promotion night on June, 4, 1974 during the match between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, at Cleveland Stadium. The match led to a riot between the teams and fans. Cleveland’s manager sent his team on to the field, with bats, in order to protect the Texas team from drunken fans.

3. During the 1980 New Mexico prison riot, prisoners in protective custody waited for 5 hours while prison gangs cut their way into the cell block with blowtorches and then tortured and killed them. They could have escaped through a rear door, but the guards refused to open it.

4. In 2013, 3000 workers at a garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh went on strike, some even rioting, not for better pay or working conditions, but because they wanted something to be done about the ghost inhabiting the bathroom.

5. In 532 A.D. 30,000 rioters were killed and half of Constantinople was destroyed in the Nika Riots, over a conflict with chariot racing.

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6Battle of Brisbane

Battle of Brisbane

Battle of Brisbane was a 2-night riot between the US military and Aussie military and civilians. Afterward, US Sergeant Bill Bentson said: “It sort of settled down & you go into a pub & an Aussie would come & up & slap me on the back. ‘Oh, wasn't that a good ruckus we had the other night? Have a beer on me.’”

7. During the Harlem Riot of March 19, 1935, 3 people died and $2 million worth of property was damaged. It started over a complete misunderstanding about something that never happened.

8. In 1922, people rioted over whether it was okay or not to wear a straw hat past the "socially acceptable" date of September 15, in New York. The riot lasted 8 days and led to multiple arrests.

9. In 1921, the largest race riot in US history, the Tulsa riots, completely wiped out one of the wealthiest African-American communities in the country. The incident started and snowballed after a black man accidentally stepped on the foot of a white woman.

10. The Watermelon War was a riot in Panama City (1856) which started because a drunken American wouldn't pay 5 cents for a slice of watermelon. It led to the death of 15 Americans and 2 Panamanians.

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11Eggnog Riot

Eggnog Riot

On Christmas Day 1826, cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point including future Confederacy President Jefferson Davis threw a booze-fueled party, which eventually led to a mutiny that ended with 20 court-martials. It was known as the “Eggnog Riot.”

12. The cast and crew of Borat nearly started a riot during the filming of the rodeo scene where Borat sings the (made up) Kazakhstan National Anthem to the tune of the American national anthem.

13. The Southern Bread Riots started as protests mostly by women who were protesting huge surges in food costs during the Civil War. The protests culminated into riots in Richmond, Virginia with chants of “bread or blood!” Food prices had soared to prices ten times higher than normal in many instances. Among the items stolen were 500 lbs of bacon.

14. The New York City Police Riot of 1857 was a battle between the recently dissolved Municipal Police and the newly formed Metropolitan Police. Municipals fought Metropolitans attempting to arrest the corrupt Mayor Wood. The situation later required the intervention of the New York State Militia.

15. In Toronto, 1933, an amateur baseball game broke out into a massive race riot when a group of Nazi sympathizers, protesting the Jewish players, unveiled a crude Swastika flag. "A crowd of more than 10,000 citizens, excited by cries of 'Heil Hitler' became suddenly a disorderly mob."

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16Stonewall Riots

Stonewall Riots

During the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the gay rioters responded to the arrival of the tactical riot squad by forming Rockette style kick-lines, and shouting to the tune of Howdy Doody “We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We don't wear underwear/ We show our pubic hairs.”

17. In 1885, there was a riot in a Scottish churchyard when an old woman tried to give her cat a "Christian burial."

18. In 1840, Russian Peasants rioted against attempts to make them grow potatoes, which they distrusted because potatoes were mentioned in the Bible.

19. In 1983, several riots broke out when people tried to buy Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, which were in high demand and low supply. Some people would attack others with handheld weapons such as baseball bats.

20. In Halifax, Nova Scotia celebrations for the end of World War 2 descended into a 2-day riot as servicemen looted the city. A reporter compared the scene to "London after the Blitz". 65,000 quarts of liquor, 8000 cases of beer, and 1500 cases of wine were 'liberated'. 2 men died of alcohol poisoning.

21Astor Place Riot

Astor Place Riot

During the Astor Place Riot of 1849, 22-31 people died and over 120 were injured. The riot started over a dispute whether an American or a British actor was the best Shakespearean actor.

22. In 1832, a British magistrate decided to cull the stray dog population by placing a bounty on each dog killed for which the Parsi Community retaliated by closing off their businesses creating economic chaos in the city. This event came to be known as the Bombay dog riots. Parsis won when the British decided to relocate stray dogs.

23. During the ‘Rebecca Riots’ in 19th Century Wales, farmers would paint their faces and dress as women, calling themselves the ‘daughters’ of Rebecca (a biblical figure). They would riot, protest, and launch attacks against landowners and tollgates, ultimately succeeding in changing the law.

24. Zoot Suit Riots were a series of anti-Mexican youth riots in Los Angeles that happened in 1943. The suits worn were seen as unpatriotic because of the amount of fabric used, and later became prohibited during World War 2 because of their wastefulness of cloth.

25. The Crown Heights riot was a racial riot that took place in 1991 between blacks and Jews of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York City. It was sparked by the death of a 7-year-old black boy named Gavin Cato who was run over by a Jewish driver.

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