Riot Recap: Or, Even The Bad News Is Not So Bad

MLewyn's picture

After the recent Baltimore riots, I saw numerous articles using them as proof that American cities really aren't on the mend after all, because there are still plenty of poverty-stricken, crime-ridden, riot-prone neighborhoods: all of which, of course, is certainly true.

But when you compare recent events with the race riots of the 1960s (or even those of the 1990s) a more complex picture emerges. For example, Baltimore's 1968 riots were by no standard the most lethal riots of that year: yet even in Baltimore, riots caused six deaths, as well as damage to 1000 or so businesses and over 6000 arrests. By contrast, no one died in either the Baltimore riots or the Fergusion riots a few months ago, and only a couple of hundred businesses were damaged.

What does this mean? Are we a gentler, kinder nation? Are our rough areas less disconnected from the rest of urban society? Or might the next riots be worse? I'm not sure yet.

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