Why People Loot

There was a video of some people driving in a luxury SUV and then looting. Why does looting come along with many protests?

The style and organization of a protest can also encourage—or discourage—vandalism. Fisher and Ray have found that protests that are preplanned and have coherent leadership tend to result in less vandalism than spontaneous protests that lack a central message. Without a formal structure or norms for behavior, protests can spin out, especially after dark. In fact, one way to prevent looting during a protest is just to call it a “vigil,” a word that connotes quiet and calm. Take the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., as an example: The demonstration had a set agenda, speakers, and protest path, and was unusually peaceful. Today’s protests are more spontaneous, and the people involved have varying goals. “Some people want the three officers who haven’t been charged to be charged,” Ray said. “Some people want policing to just completely end, on the other end of the spectrum.”

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Olga Khazan — The Atlantic

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