Riots and Rioters

riot, rout, and unlawful assembly

rout riot, and unlawful assembly, in law, varying degrees of concerted disturbance of the peace. At common law, an unlawful assembly is a gathering of at least three persons whose conduct causes observers to reasonably fear that a breach of the peace will result. When the meeting is a furtherance of a criminal conspiracy, the participation of only two persons will suffice to constitute the crime of unlawful assembly. Under British law, the Riot Act (1716) required that a sheriff, judge, or other authority appear before an unruly crowd and read a declaration ordering them to disperse, on penalty of arrest. Modern statutes have freed the crime of unlawful assembly from some of its technicalities. Thus, there are municipal ordinances that make unlawful an unlicensed street assembly that blocks traffic even if there is no danger of tumult. An unlawful assembly becomes a rout when the participants take some step to achieve their common purpose; e.g., if three men who have assembled to commit arson proceed toward the building that they intend to set on fire, they are guilty of a rout even if they never reach their goal. There is a riot if violence actually results from an unlawful assembly. If a police officer (or other officer of the peace) commands bystanders at a riot to help him in repressing it, they must obey on pain of themselves being deemed rioters. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the "right of the people peaceably to assemble," and has provided protection for many types of assembly, including some forms of picketing and demonstrations.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Rioting in America
Paul A. Gilje.
Indiana University Press, 1996
The Turbulent Era: Riot & Disorder in Jacksonian America
Michael Feldberg.
Oxford University Press, 1980
American Mobbing, 1828-1861: Toward Civil War
David Grimsted.
Oxford University Press, 1998
The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War
Iver Bernstein.
Oxford University Press, 1990
John E. Wool and the New York City Draft Riots of 1863: A Reassessment
Hauptman, Laurence M.
Civil War History, Vol. 49, No. 4, December 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Rage in the Gate City: The Story of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot
Rebecca Burns.
University of Georgia Press, 2009 (Revised edition)
Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943
Dominic J. Capeci Jr.; Martha Wilkerson.
University Press of Mississippi, 1991
Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy
David S. Cecelski; Timothy B. Tyson.
University of North Carolina Press, 1998
Mob Violence in the Late Roman Republic, 133-49 B.C
John Wesley Heaton.
University of Illinois Press, 1939
Understanding Popular Violence in the English Revolution: The Colchester Plunderers
John Walter.
Cambridge University Press, 1999
The Crowd in the French Revolution
George Rudé.
Oxford University Press, 1967
Battleground Chicago: The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention
Frank Kusch.
Praeger, 2004
The Riot Makers: The Technology of Social Demolition
Eugene H. Methvin.
Arlington House, 1970
Riots and Victims: Violence and the Construction of Communal Identity among Bengali Muslims, 1905-1947
Patricia A. Gossman.
Westview Press, 1999
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