Difference Between Riot and Protest

Riot vs Protest

In both riot and protest, we see some similar conditions, but also there is some difference between them when it comes to their meaning. Riots can be defined as a civil condition where people behave violently and out of order. Riots can be results of any kind of mistreatment, injustice or oppression due to the authority, government, or people themselves. Protests, on the other hand, can be defined as a form of expression over a dislike by a group of people and these are more peaceful and do not usually go against the law. Let us look at the terms, riot and protest, and the difference between them in detail here.

What is a Riot?

A riot, as mentioned above, is a situation where people behave more violently against the authority, people, or property. Riots could be a result of the unrest of the public. Sometimes, the government may impose excess tax on public or give fewer infrastructure facilities, etc. As a result of these reasons, the civilians may be organized against the government. The main characteristic of a riot is that it may harm the people or property. Riots do not care whether the properties are private or public, but their main aim is to indicate their dislike or disagreement by destroying whatever they see or get.

Riots may happen not only against the government but also due to religious reasons, ethnic problems, or business problems, etc. It can be said that the main targets of the riots depend on the reason and the group. That means, if the riot is related to a religious problem, the involved people may destroy religious buildings in the first place. However, the riots are controlled by the police or army only after a huge effort.

Difference Between Riot and Protest

What is a Protest?

Protest is another kind of demonstration where people express their dislike over a certain thing. In this case too, there is a group of people who have similar intentions and they organize a more peaceful campaign in order to show their disagreement. These protests may be in the form of a picket, strike, or it could be a walk from one place to another. The main objective of these types of protests is to make the public aware of the protestor’s problems. Also, they try to influence the attitudes of people by giving leaflets, displaying posters or by making a speech in front of a large gathering.

Protests are usually peaceful and they do not destroy the properties. Sometimes, the protests may cause temporary issues like traffic, closing down of roads, etc., but overall, they are non-violent. Protests happen in almost all the countries and cities in the world and it is one of the most popular ways to express the problems of a certain group to the rest of the society.

 Riot vs Protest

What is the difference between Riot and Protest?

When we take both terms, we see some similarities as well as differences. Both riots and protests aim to express their dislike of a certain thing to the rest of the society. These two can be identified as media through which people are made aware of certain issues. Both these may disturb the normal routine of the society and they can be seen as a type of deviant behavior in the society.

• When we look at differences between these two, we see that the riots are more violent whereas protests are more peaceful and non-violent.

• Riots destroy properties and human lives as well, but protests may not include destruction.

• If a protest continues for a long time, there is a possibility for it to turn into a riot.

• However, both are ways of expressing the dislikes of people against certain things.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Dublin riots 2006 via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Protest by Edgar Zessinthal (CC BY-SA 2.0)