Reaction Paper 3

Emily Curtis

Dr. Martin

November 23rd 2o15


The New Inquiry reading that we read in class on ‘The Difference between riots and protests has more to do with who and where than what’ discusses in depth the differences between the two. It began with talking about something that was going on in Sudan and hashtag #sudanrevolts was used, and when the issues were addressed they were called riots. But, there were mass ‘protests’ in Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Greece and Spain, and Sudan’s mass protests received the title of ‘Riots’. The article proceeds with discussing how the protests in Istanbul and Greece had graffiti, busted windows and things set on fire. Much of what we would consider to be a riot. The article continues to say that essentially the difference between a riot and a protest is if you’re black, it’s a riot and if you’re white its a protest.

In a reading in the book ‘Race, Space and Riots in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles’ we read about a specific riot in New York in which began with a young 15 year old black boy getting shot by an off duty white cop on July 16th. The boy was apparently in a place that the cop thought he shouldn’t have been and the officer said that the young boy had a knife, but that part of the story was a bit hazy and was never proven. The next few days in Harlem a riot sparked because of this. July 17th picketing at the school was met by the police officers, core rally march, resulting in police trying to break up crowd. Their goal being to isolate harlem but the crowds grew. July 19th tried to clean up, and the commissioner called for order. Then in Bedford, July 20 CORE meeting then marched until the police broke them up and the police were called in to stop riots. Then ‘the worst day’ being July 21st when the Mayor tried to recruit minority policemen which didn’t work. The NAACP said to “cool it” and that didn’t work. The rain ended up being the cause of the end of the riots, with 302 arrests and $1.5 million in expenses. This was a riot in New York. Throughout the entire reading those participating were called ‘rioters’ and talks about how the response to this riot was the most relaxed and non-chalant response to a riot because there was pretty much no response. But nevertheless was still considered a riot.

Up until reading the piece on the riots in Sudan and the difference between riots and protests, I never even thought that the difference was race related, which I’m shocked that I didn’t because everything is race related. So the fact that I was so shocked by this is a bit embarrassing. I’ve always just thought that one was more peaceful and one is violent, being the determining factor in differentiating the two. But the article on Sudan riots put it into perspective. “Still, the situations where lighter skinned people were filling the photographs: protests. When darker skinned people are involved? Riots.”


Abu-Lughod, Janet. 2007/2012. Race, Space and Riots in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Oxford University Press.

Rakia, Raven. 2013. Black Riot. The New Inquiry.

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