The wingnuts were so certain African Americans would riot after the Zimmerman acquittal that, in the absence of actual riots, someone felt compelled to post a fake riot video that, naturally, went viral. However, the video was not of a post-verdict riot in Miami but of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, Canada.
Instead of riots, there have been some protest rallies attended by racially mixed crowds. These have either been mostly peaceful but for a few individuals acting out, or they were entirely peaceful but over-policed. It’s hard to know which.
And, of course, it’s the widespread certitude among white racists that blacks are inherently prone to crime and violence that gave George Zimmerman “permission” to stalk Trayvon Martin.
But if we assume, as racists do, that behavioral traits are connected to race, it’s really white rioters we should fear. Historically, in the U.S. whites have been at least as prone as blacks to engage in riots, if not more so.
First, as mentioned in an earlier post, precisely 150 years ago rampaging whites fomented the biggest riot in American history, in New York City. A close rival to that record must be the East St. Louis riot of 1917, in which a white mob set fire to black neighborhoods and shot residents as they tried to escape the flames.
Of the many white race riots in U.S. history, there were some doozies during Reconstruction, such as the New Orleans and Memphis riots of 1866 (36 and 48 dead, respectively, nearly all African American). One interesting detail of the New Orleans riots is that orders (from Washington? I don’t remember) had sent Gen. Phil Sheridan and many occupying troops out of town (Sheridan was military commander of the district) in advance of the riot. There is speculation this was done to get Sheridan out of the way, as he tended to actually keep the peace. This suggests the New Orleans violence was not so much a riot as a premeditated attack.
After the heavyweight boxing defeat of (the white) Jim Jeffries by (the black) Jack Johnson in 1910, riots broke out among whites around the country in which several African Americans were killed, but I don’t know how many. From PBS:
Newspaper editorials warned Johnson and the black community not to be too proud. Congress eventually passed an act banning the interstate transport of fight films for fear that the images of Johnson beating his white opponents would provoke further unrest.
And of course, during the Jim Crow years lynch mobs were a common phenomenon, and not just in the South.
I could go on and on. You don’t find large-scale African American riots until relatively recent times, such as Watts, 1965, and the “Rodney King” riots of 1992. But again, if we assume a predisposition to riot is an immutable trait connected to race (which I don’t, to be clear), then whites must be at least as likely to riot as blacks.
Update: See also Electric Ooga-Boogaloo. Drudge et al. are reporting riots that are not happening.
Update: On CNN, Newt called the peaceful verdict protesters a “lynch mob.”