Rioting as a Part of Human Nature:
A flock of birds maintains its cohesive behavior—the ability to move as a single unit—by individual birds keeping equal distance from their nearest neighbors.
Fish remaining in close proximity to one another are shoaling. If the group is moving on the same path in a synchronized mode it is schooling.
Insects hovering in one spot or darkening the sky in a mass migration are swarming.
Animals running in herds stay close together as a defensive mechanism against predators.
These are instinctual patterns encoded in DNA. Early humans banded together as part of the survival instinct. Over time, humans perfected their most potent weapon—the ability to reason. Reasoning has made humans the dominate species on the planet.
Even with all our advances in science and technology, herd instinct still plays a big role in our lives. Examples include everything from simple biological factors—a group of people walking on the right side will stay in the right lane and a group of people walking on the left will stay in the left lane—to complex transmission patterns—groups of investors or stockholders selling off shares of stocks and bonds based on speculation.
The New York Draft Riots of 1863:
America faced a crisis. Civil war divided the country. Congress mandated that all men of a certain age were eligible to fight in the Union army. This touched off resentment in Irish immigrants. A large portion of the few having steady jobs depended on cotton shipments from the south. Many saw slavery of African Americans as an essential part of the economy.
Resentment evolved into anger when names were pulled from “the wheel of misfortune”, a drum filled with tickets bearing the names of prospective draftees.
Anger turned into revenge when 500 men took to the streets, burning federal buildings and attacking the wealthy and African American businesses owners. One hundred and nineteen people were reported dead. But it is believed the number of unreported deaths may be closer to 1,000.
The Storming of the Capitol in 2021:
America faced another crisis. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS COV-2) ravaged the health care system and crippled large sectors of the economy. Covid 19 even drove wedges deeper into already fractured political divides.
In November, a presidential election was held. Because of the pandemic, many states adopted mail in balloting procedures. The incumbent, Donald J. Trump, said this system was riddled with fraud. On election night, Trump claimed victory before all votes were counted and said the opposing party had stolen the election.
This rhetoric continued. Members of the Republican party, fearful of losing the support of Trump’s massive voter base, advanced the theory.
Trump took his case to court only to face rejection on the state, local, and Supreme Court levels.
On November 6, the day when congress would certify the electoral college vote, a routine formality, Trump rallied thousands of supporters and suggested they march to the capitol and support legislators voting to obstruct the results. He even said he’d be there with the group.
The rest is history. Played out on television sets all over the world.
The closest I’ve ever come to being in a “riot” was back when I was a young man. We were at Pirates World, a South Florida amusement park, attending a rock concert. We didn’t even have the price of admission but stood outside the venue to hear Spirit.
We were right up against the unsupported slat fencing. As the night wore on, more people were stacking up behind us. On the last number, I Got a Line on You, my hands were pressed against the fence. I felt the weight of people behind me inching forward as the lead guitar solo wailed. I wasn’t the only person in that position. The flimsy fence line gave way like a Saltine cracker.
No one was hurt and no arrests were made. At the next concert, a sturdy chain link fence was in place and park security increased.