2020 Riots On Track to Be Most Expensive Ever

Following last month’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, demonstrations and protests may have caused $50 million in damage and left one person dead and Blake partially paralyzed. If that damage total is born out, the Kenosha riots would be the 11th costliest civil disorder in U.S. history.

Riots in 140 U.S. cities in 20 states following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis could become the costliest civil disorder ever in the United States, replacing the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of the police officers accused of beating Rodney King.

Property Claim Services (PCS), a unit of Verisk Analytics, tracks insurance claims related to civil disorders and has done so since 1950. Axios reported exclusively Wednesday that PCS estimates that insurance claims of at least $1 billion to $2 billion will make the riots following the killing of Floyd the costliest ever.

The following chart identifies PCS’s 13 largest “catastrophes” (damage claims exceeding $25 million), including current estimates of the costs of the riots in several cities in 20 states following the George Floyd killing and the riots in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake. Nominal dollars reflect the damage costs at the time and the list is ordered by the dollar damage in current dollars.

Rank Date Location Nominal Dollars 2020 Dollars
1 August 2020 Several $1B–$2B $1B–$2B
2 April–May 1992 Los Angeles $775M $1.4B
3 August 1965 Los Angeles $44M $357M
4 July 1967 Detroit $42M $322M
5 May 1980 Miami $65M $204M
6 April 1968 Washington, D.C. $24M $179M
7 July 1977 New York City $28M $118M
8 July 1967 Newark $15M $115M
9 April 1968 Baltimore $14M $104M
10 April 1968 Chicago $13M $97M
11 August 2020 Kenosha $50M $50M
12 April 1968 New York City $4M $30M
13 April 2015 Baltimore $24M $26M

Four incidents on this list are related to the April 4, 1968, assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Not including this year’s two incidents, here are snapshots of the other seven riots:

1965, Los Angeles: The Watts riot claimed 34 lives and injured more than 1,000 people, following an incident that resulted in the arrest of two black Watts residents and their mother following a traffic stop.

1992, Los Angeles: The Rodney King Riot cost more than 51 lives, nearly 2,400 injuries and 8,000 arrests. The incident followed the acquittal of four police offers who had been caught on film beating King.

1967, Detroit: The so-called Detroit Race Riot was responsible for the deaths of 43 people (33 Blacks and 10 whites) and nearly 1,200 injuries. The incident started at an after-hours bar where a welcome-home party for two Vietnam War veterans was raided by police.

1980, Miami: The Miami Race Riot resulted in the deaths of 10 Blacks and eight whites and followed the acquittal for four police officers of brutality and other charges.

1977, New York City: The Blackout Riot began following lightning strikes that led to a power outage in the entire city. More than 3,700 people were arrested, most for looting. No deaths were reported.

1967, Newark, New Jersey: The Newark Riot was sparked by the arrest and beating of a taxi driver and resulted in 26 deaths, most of black Americans, and more than 750 injuries.

2015, Baltimore: The protests and riots in Baltimore followed the death of Freddie Gray, a Black man who had been arrested and was being transported in a police van at the time of his death. No deaths or injuries were reported. A year after Gray’s death, three police officers charged with false imprisonment, assault and manslaughter were acquitted of the charges, two others had all charges dropped and a sixth was declared a mistrial.

Of these cities, only Minneapolis made our list of the worst cities in the United States for Black Americans.

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