Riots vs Protests: What You Need to Know

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All I know is that I will forever remember 2020. From pandemics to protests and riots, who could forget? Today, we are going to talk about riots vs protests so you can review what you need to know for each!

Riots vs Protests

Protesting and rioting are two totally different things. However, what we have seen going on may make it seem like the two go hand in hand. 

What is a Protest?

A protest is a declaration of objection to something. Usually a protest happens as a result of the people being powerless to prevent or avoid what they are upset about. 

What is the Purpose of a Protest? 

The purpose of a protest is for those with the same opinions to organize and make their opinions heard. This is an attempt to influence the public or government to make changes. Additionally, protesters may undertake direct action in a way to enact the desired changes themselves. 

What Should a Protest Look Like?

A protest should be a demonstration by a group or a collection of groups of people with the same opinion or priorities. Typically, a protest consists of people walking in a group or march formation. There is a beginning and a designated endpoint where they typically hear speakers. 


During a protest, you should expect:

  • Blockades
  • Sit-ins
  • Marches
  • Speakers

Protests should be peaceful. Basically, people are just gathering to get their opinions heard and try to influence others so change can happen. 

What You Can and Can’t Do..

I have even seen some things during protests that I am thinking “ Can they even do that?” Well, the truth is protesters have rules they have to follow as well. During a protest here is what you can and can’t do:

You Can…

  • Distribute leaflets, flyers, or other literature on your own property, on public sidewalks, in parks, or plazas. 
  • Picket or protest on public sidewalks, parks, and plaza as long as sidewalks and building entrances are NOT blocked. 
  • Sing or chant protest songs on public sidewalks, parks, and plazas.
  • Many municipalities require you to get a permit prior to the protest. That then sets the stage for possible traffic control, etc.

You Cannot..

  • Block access to buildings or sidewalks.
  • March in the streets WITHOUT a permit.
  • Disrupt counter-protests
  • Engage in speech that is obscene, false statements, or things that are likely to incite a dangerous situation. 

What is a Riot? 

A riot is different from a protest since it is where protesters decide to no longer be peaceful and resort to violence. A riot is when people get angry, and instead of peacefully promoting change, they do so with violence. It is an uprising or wild disturbance, or an outburst of uncontrolled feelings and emotions.

A violent protest is a riot and no longer just a protest. 

What Property Gets Targeted?

Riots typically involve the destruction of property and usually includes private and public property. The property targeted depends on the riot and what the people are trying to get across. Targets include:

  • Shops
  • Cars
  • Restaurants
  • State owned institutions
  • Religious buildings

Why Do Riots Start?

Riots start for a variety of different reasons. Usually, it is a reaction to a grievance or out of dissent. Historically, riots have started for the following reasons:

  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Poor living conditions
  • Governmental oppression
  • Taxation
  • Conscription
  • Race riots
  • Frustration with legal channels

While most riots begin with someone attempting to lead or control the riot, most consist of disorganized groups that are chaotic and exhibit herd behavior. But, research has come out that riots are not always irrational. 

Are Riots Legal?

Peaceful protests are legal, but riots are NOT. In fact, inciting a riot is a misdemeanor offense. It is punishable with hefty fines or up to a year in county jail. Additionally, if the person(s) inciting the riot did so while in jail, or caused bodily injury to another person anywhere, it can be filed as a felony. 

What is the Largest Riot in History?

The largest riot in history was the 1967 Detroit Riots. They were the most violent and destructive riots in United States history. By the end of the riots, burning, and looting, 43 people were dead, 342 people were injured, 1,400 buildings had been burned, and over 7,000 troops were called into service. 

Riots Vs Protests: How to Prepare

When there are protests, you will often see riots as well. This is because peaceful protests often get heated by those who do not agree with the protest. Regardless of why it happens, when there are protests, you should always be on guard and prepared for a riot to follow suit. 

Prepare for Martial Law

With the riots of 1967, as mentioned above, 7,000 troops were called into service. When the troops are activated, a part of martial law is activated. To learn more about this topic, check out my post: “Everything You Need to Know About Martial Law.”

Prepare Your House Against Looters

Once other property, grocery stores, etc. have been destroyed, looting may happen to peoples’ homes. When riots happen, looting typically happens in the stores first. However, as the stores are emptied of food and supplies, people become desperate and begin looting homes for the things they need to survive. Check out my post: “How to Prepare Your House Against Looters” for more information!

Prepare Your Home for Food Shortages

Obviously, if people are destroying property, which includes our grocery stores, there will be shortages of food in your area. Be sure to stock up on water and food so that you can remain off the streets and safe in your home. Learn more about food shortage in my post: Food Shortage Why Shelves are Empty & What to Do

Talk to Your Children

If you are seeing riots and looting close to where you live, it is important to start talking to your children. Have a plan of where to meet. Make sure your children know not to open the door to anyone, to keep quiet if there is chaos in the neighborhood, and to know where to hide if need be. These are scary times for everyone, but it’s even scarier when you have small children you must protect. Keeping them informed and giving them a plan is the best way to keep them safe, protected, and as calm as possible. 

Stay Informed

When there are protests, it is always important to stay informed. Know when the protest is happening, where it will be, and how long it is supposed to last. If you hear news of riots and looting breaking out, stay home, and stay safe. One of the best ways to stay informed, even if there is a power outage, is to have a radio on hand. I personally like solar-powered radios so I don’t need extra batteries. The more you know, the easier it will be to stay out of the chaos and on the down-low. 

Final Word

We saw riots and protests break out earlier in the year, and now we are seeing them happening again. Personally, I don’t see the protests ending until there are changes made in our culture and the treatment of minorities that the majority of people are happy with. With that being said, I fully believe we are entitled to peaceful protests, but when protests start, we should be prepared for riots and looting as well. Remember, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I hope you enjoyed my, Riots vs Protests: What you need to know today. Please stay safe, we must be kind to one another. May God bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Multicultural Group of People Deposit photos_287982870_s-2019

30 thoughts on “Riots vs Protests: What You Need to Know

  • August 30, 2020 at 7:37 am
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    I fully support protest and rallies.
    Rioting, looting, intimidation, assaults and homicide are not supported and will be dealt with accordingly.
    If you allow this to get to your front door you’ve failed. I know it’s contradictory to law and civilized thinking but you will not win and will be burned out. You have to think bigger. What we are seeing isn’t simple protest its war. Soft and localized for now but nonetheless war.
    I know this is harsher talk than most like but it’s truth. You under prepare you perish. You over prepare and what?
    Plan accordingly

    Reply
    • August 30, 2020 at 8:51 am
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      Hi Matt, I totally agree with you on protests and rallies. Peaceful ones. I saw a peaceful one here in Southern Utah yesterday. I hope it stays that way. You and I both know things are going to get worse before they get better. Great comment, plan accordingly. Be safe my friend, Linda

      Reply
  • August 30, 2020 at 7:48 am
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    Personally I was a little taken aback when I first saw your article. Being a black person I was like…why is she attempting to addressing this issue. I want you to also understand that riots have antagonists that have been proven to be planted to cause destruction, and discord as well. That being said, I believe that you do understand why these uprisings continue to exist. Black Lives Matter. This is not said to negate other lives. But if a person believes that All Lives Matter….then you too, should be angry too about the things that you’ve seen. Things that I personally have dealt with everyday of my life.

    Reply
    • August 30, 2020 at 8:42 am
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      Jo Ann, thank you for your comment. First of all, I will never feel the fear you feel, and I want to acknowledge that before I write anymore to respond to you. Just so you know I grew up in Las Vegas Nevada and we had riots in my high school back in 1967-68. The National Guard came every day to protect all the students. I was confused as to why the whites had to eat on one side of the cafeteria and the blacks on the other side. The police directed the whites to walk on one side of the halls and the blacks on the other side. Now mind you, I turned 70 this year. I have never been racist ever and I mean never. I had friends of every color and religion. I could only talk to my friends of color in the classes. I have always been the “nice and sweet” person growing up. And I couldn’t understand the turmoil going on. My best friend’s parents were worried and removed her from our high school to go to a Catholic High School. I was devastated. My BFF is gone and now I can’t talk to my friends of color in the hallways. What is going on?? Yes, I saw the anger, yes I saw knives that were confiscated. That’s one story. Now fast forward, I have friends that have adopted black children from the US and other countries. I have watched them grow up and have loved them like my own grandkids. NOW, I’m upset because they are afraid and hurt by so-called good Christian families. I’m ticked off when they are pulled over by cops because they are black. YES, just because they are black. I am mad that the parents have to teach their black children how to “act” when they leave their homes. I hope you now understand how I really feel, Black Lives Matter! I pray for people of color every day of my life. I now have tears running down my face. I’m ashamed of how the bad apple cops have treated the blacks and the whites. Some cops have anger issues and are in the wrong job. I will get flack for this, but I have to rant about it. I realize there are good cops but it only takes a few bad apples to take a life that shouldn’t have been taken. There are no words to express my love for blacks. We all have the same color of blood. God bless this world. Hugs from Utah! Linda

      Reply
      • August 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm
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        Jo Ann and Linda ~

        I grew up in an area of the country that was white and only had Hispanics (migrant workers for the harvest period of the year) but no other people of color. I was raised by people who were “good people” but found that they were very racist. My brother just older than me worked for the Forest Service during the late 60s/early 70s and brought a bunch of the guys home one time for a home cooked meal. Racism reared its ugly head when one of the guys was black and my mother told my brother to never bring him back. I was probably 15 or 16 at the time. I was in total shock!

        When I was in college, I had friends who were black, Asian, and Hispanic. My mother hated – yes hated – that I was friends with anyone other than whites. She never said it in so many words but I knew. I also knew that she was afraid that her rebel daughter might, just might date someone who was not white!

        Linda, you said in your comment: “so-called good Christian families”. I came to my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ only 10 years ago. I have learned that not everyone who says they are Christian are actually Christians. But, I leave that distinction up to God to know their heart. I can only surmise their hearts by their actions. AND I truly believe that anyone who doesn’t “Love Thy Neighbor As Themselves” cannot be fully committed to Christ.

        Also, what started out as a protest for Black Lives Matter has turned into something far removed – when people who say they are protesters try to lock police in their station and set fire to said station, they have gone beyond the protest to a riot mob. And yes, that did happen in Seattle. I do not fear the protesters but I do fear the rioters. They will stop at nothing short of destruction, vandalism and looting. Protesters do not typically do that.

        Ok – my rant is over! I pray that I will always have the love of Christ in my heart and in my actions towards others. Still working on it though!!

        Reply
        • August 30, 2020 at 3:34 pm
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          Hi Leanne, you know I love your comment. I also believe that anyone who doesn’t “Love Thy Neighbor As Themselves” cannot be fully committed to Christ. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this statement. God bless this world, Linda

          Reply
  • August 30, 2020 at 8:36 am
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    I’m a mixed race American, but my race doesn’t matter. The fact that I’m an American matters. This country is the BEST in the world. It treats ALL people better than any place else. I’m not talking perfection. If you know a better country regarding equality, you show it to me. American lives matter. And we should be able to rally around that because our country since the 60s has been harassed by anarchists, which in the last 4 years have gotten significant funding to promote anarchy among a new generation of them. They will use the excuse to protest with a group and turn it into a riot. I support our country and our law enforcement, who for the most part does a pretty good job keeping my community safe.

    Reply
    • August 30, 2020 at 8:55 am
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      Hi Debbie, great comment. I sometimes wonder where the parents are of these rioters? I would not tolerate my grown kids or grandkids acting like some of the crazy people. But I don’t have to worry, I raised them to respect others and property. Mental health is a big issue in our country, could this be part of it? I don’t know for sure. Crazy times. Linda

      Reply
  • August 30, 2020 at 10:00 am
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    LInda, cops who kill any person regardless of color without a good, strong self-defense justification should be arrested, convicted and sent to prison. When I was a young man, fresh out of the Navy, I joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War and participated in peaceful protest marches. At least they were peaceful until the cops shot teargas into the crowd and beat us with their billy clubs. I also saw agitators within our protest throwing rocks and bottles at the police to trigger those attacks. So I know first hand how emotions on either side of a protest can spiral out of control. The point is, those agitators weren’t there to protest. They were there to incite violence, hoping for a backlash by the cops that would garner them publicity. It worked. And that’s too bad, because anyone who incites violence should also be arrested, convicted and imprisoned.

    Justice should be colorblind. People should be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. America is the best nation on Earth and Americans are some of the best people on Earth. That doesn’t mean we can’t get better, but we aren’t a bunch of racists either.

    Reply
    • August 30, 2020 at 10:35 am
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      Hi Ray, wow, I remember too well the Vietnam War and the protests against it. People at the time were embarrassed to say they served in that war. But they did it proudly. But when they were returned it was not a good situation. My memory is not as good as it used to be. I totally agree if people disobey the law they need to be arrested, convicted, and put in prison. Have you watched the movie called “Cultural High”? It has to do with our justice system. It has some really bad language but it opened my eyes. My husband didn’t like it but we have differing opinions on some things. Stay safe, Linda

      Reply
      • August 30, 2020 at 1:44 pm
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        I haven’t seen that movie. I know our justice system has problems. I know a higher percentage of Blacks are in jail than whites. I know disparate sentences are still handed down based on race. Life isn’t fair and no amount of legislation, whether capitalist or socialist inspired, can make it so. No amount of rioting will either.

        There is only one thing that can help disadvantaged (and by that I mean poor) people rise up and become advantaged and that is a good quality education where they are NOT brainwashed and told WHAT to think, but rather are taught HOW to think for themselves.

        The greatest teachers I had all used the Socratic method, always questioning students and making us think logically. Other teachers taught us math with no calculators allowed–because using only your brain to solve math problems teaches a thought process no amount of button pushing can match. The fact we didn’t have calculators back then is beside the point. We had slide rules and weren’t allowed to use them either because the whole point of the exercise was more about teaching us HOW to use our minds to arrive at the correct answer than about arriving at the correct answer itself.

        So, the solution is to massively reform our educational system. Teach people how to think and they will find new, innovative and, for the most part, legal ways to better their lot in life.

        Oh, btw, I was never ashamed of my service, or embarrassed by it. I was angry that our politicians were killing off a goodly chunk of our generation for no good reason or purpose. Unfortunately, we are doing the same thing now in Iraq and Afghanistan and I sincerely hope we bring our soldiers home safely before too many more of them are grievously wounded or die.

        The young people who are protesting and rioting now are nothing like the protesters during the Vietnam War. We were trying to stop a war. They are trying to start one. Make no mistake about it. They aren’t trying to end racism. They are trying to force us to censor our speech, our history and even our thoughts so we conform to their misguided ideology. That’s right out of Animal Farm and 1984. It’s also right out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

        Reply
        • August 30, 2020 at 3:28 pm
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          Hi Ray, great comment! We really do need to have a better educational system. Life is so crazy right now. I think I worded it wrong about the Vietnam War, it wasn’t the soldiers that were embarrassed, our country was against the war or the majority of people. I totally agree with you that we need to bring our troops home and sooner than later. We are in a war of sorts right here in the US with all the riots and protestors. I don’t think it’s going to end anytime soon. It’s going to get worse, I just hope people understand what is really going on right now. We are in a major mess and I hope we can dig ourselves out. Trump is doing everything he can. God bless this country. Linda

          Reply
          • August 31, 2020 at 1:09 pm
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            I fear things here will get worse not matter who wins the Presidency. If Trump wins, and I hope he does, the Mainstream Media and the Anarchists on the far left will go into hysterics and more violence will ensue–even though the economy, jobs and many other facets of everyday life will improve. If Biden wins (and Harris becomes President de-facto) the Senate will probably go Democrat like the House, and they will enact policies like their National Popular Vote Act to end run the Electoral College and disenfranchise anyone not living on the East and West coasts, they’ll totally gut the 2d Amendment and will, if necessary pack the Supreme Court so their new laws can be declared “Constitutional.” That will spell the end of freedom in America and will instigate more violence as patriots resist. But I’m an Optimist so I think Trump will win and stave off the death of America for another four years.

          • August 31, 2020 at 6:40 pm
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            Hi Ray, I must be an optimist as well. God bless this country! Linda

      • August 30, 2020 at 7:35 pm
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        Hi Leanne, yes, she does. Hopefully to make it a fair decision. Linda

        Reply
  • August 30, 2020 at 10:16 am
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    It’s my observation that riots often promote hatred. Hating people will never bring peace, ever. Those paying the rioters use greed and hatred to control others for their evil agendas.

    Reply
    • August 30, 2020 at 10:37 am
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      Hi Janet, I’m glad you mentioned the “paid” rioters, I must have been hiding under a rock for years. I heard about this about 4 years ago. Where have I been? Anyway, I had no idea, that some people get paid to riot, damage property, etc. It is all about evil agendas. Great comment, Linda

      Reply
  • August 30, 2020 at 7:06 pm
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    DID YOU NOTICE THE KENOSHA SHOOTER WAS NOT FROM KENOSHA? WHAT WAS A 17 YEAR OLD DOING WITH AN AR-15? WHY DIDN’t THE KENOSHA POLICE ARREST HIM FOR HAVING A LOADED RIFLE?
    TWO OF THE PEOPLE HE MURDERED WERE WHITE.

    Reply
    • August 30, 2020 at 7:19 pm
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      Hi Elbert, I was thinking the same thing about the AR-15!! Where were the parents of that 17-year-old kid?? This is nuts! How did he get the rifle in the first place?? His parents? Online, I want to know. Stay safe, Linda

      Reply
      • August 31, 2020 at 5:56 am
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        It is not illegal for a 17yr old to OWN a rifle. It can be gifted to him legally.
        If you think he’s a child then why charge him as an adult? Which is it?

        Reply
        • August 31, 2020 at 7:17 am
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          Hi Matt, you know I have wondered about this, thanks for clarifying it for me. So you can OWN a rifle because it could have been gifted it to him. Gotcha. Now, I need to go read more about how the “child” is being charged. Adult or child. Wow, great comment, you know I love your comments. I learn so much from you and I don’t take it for granted. Stay safe my friend, Linda

          Reply
          • August 31, 2020 at 10:02 am
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            As far as 17yrs old do y’all know that they can serve in the military at 17? I had several over the years. A 17 year old can haul missiles from the manufacturing plant in Arkansas to the ammunition depot in Oklahoma in a tractor trailer as a member of The Oklahoma National Guard but can’t get a DCL to drive a civilian tractor trailer or a hazmat license or vote, drink or smoke? But can be charged as an adult with a crime, own a rifle or shotgun but can’t buy ammo. They can drive a 5000lb pickup at 80mph and buy gas with the money they earned from a job across state lines on a road they pay taxes on but need permission from a teacher to go to the restroom.
            Kinda weird huh?

          • August 31, 2020 at 10:14 am
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            Hi Matt, I didn’t have brothers or sons. My first grandchild was a boy, I was thrilled, to say the least. But I had no experience growing up with brothers. I thought you had to be 18 to serve in the military. Thanks for sharing your insight, I know you’re in the know. Some of these “rules or laws” make no sense, but then that doesn’t surprise me either. Good grief, who is in charge, I have to laugh because it makes no sense. But what do I know, yes, it’s very weird. Linda

    • August 31, 2020 at 5:54 am
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      Elbert Jones Did you notice the people he shot were not from there either? It’s not illegal for a 17yr old to own a rifle. You just can’t buy it. What difference does the skin color make? None. You attack and get killed your skin color makes no difference.

      Reply
      • August 31, 2020 at 7:20 am
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        Hi Matt, this is what drives me crazy, people coming into cities to make trouble. It’s my understanding they even get paid to do it. What’s wrong with these people. I agree with your statement it doesn’t matter the color your of skin if you attack you will suffer the consequences. Enough said. Linda

        Reply
  • August 30, 2020 at 9:06 pm
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    I think your explanation of the difference between a riot and a protest was on spot. Thank you so much for posting this. Also, thanks for the heads up for us to be able to prepare when a protest starts so that we aren’t “caught” unprepared when it turns into something else. God bless.

    Reply
    • August 31, 2020 at 7:11 am
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      HI Connie, thank you for your kind words. I wanted to write it so we know the difference. We must be prepared so we are not “caught” unprepared. Stay safe, Linda

      Reply

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