8 of the Strangest Riots in History

  • May 22, 2017
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People: they sometimes freak-out, often for strange reasons. Here's a brief write-up of eight of the strangest events that got people up in arms.


Lager Beer Riot (United States, 1855)

When the mayor of Chicago reinstated an ordinance preventing the opening of pubs on Sundays and drastically increasing the price of liquor licenses, the city's immigrant community saw the move as a strike against them. After a series of arrests, groups organized and took to the streets. Though the ensuing chaos saw police officers open fire on crowds, there was only one confirmed death from the event. After the mayor left office the ordinance was repealed.


Zoot Suit Riots (United States, 1943)

In Los Angeles the young Latino community took to wearing flashy zoot suits despite wartime rationing of wool. The style, originally identified with jazz music, had become associated with gang activity due to a few publicized incidents. White soldiers saw the wearers as unpatriotic and, in some cases, draft dodgers. What followed were several days of racial violence as sailors and eventually ordinary citizens attacked Latinos and stripped them of their zoot suits. At its peak attacks spread to other major cities.


Vaccine Riots (Brazil, 1904)

In order to modernize the city of Rio De Janeiro and improve the hygiene of the populous, the city's mayor approved a massive program that saw old buildings get demolished and water ways cleaned up. But one measure had doctors and policemen enter homes to force vaccinations on those inside. For many this was the last straw at what they felt were extreme measures, and riots ensued for six days. In the end hundreds were wounded, many were deported, and thirty died. Though briefly halted, the vaccine program was resumed and small pox eradicated from the region. Did the ends justify the means?


Rites of Spring Riot (France, 1913)

History has distorted what exactly happened in Paris that night, but something about Igor Stravinsky or his strange work Rites of Spring upset the high-class audience of this Paris premier. The strange music paired with the primitive dancing caused an uproar. The crowd fought among themselves as the play continued, managing to reach a conclusion without any of the performers getting injured.