Rioting that erupted in cities across the United States after the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis may rival the 1992 Los Angeles riots to become the most costly civil disorder in United States history.
The civil disturbance in Los Angeles after the videotaped police beating of Rodney King in April and May 1992 caused $775 million in damages — or $1.42 billion in today’s dollars, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Those riots, however, were largely confined to one metropolitan area. Destruction and looting that erupted after Floyd’s death was reported in at least 25 cities, and spread into many suburbs as well. The extent of damage was unknown as of late Monday, but a sample of local news reports suggests that it is widespread:
- In Pittsburgh, the Public Safety department reported 50 businesses and properties in downtown area were damaged.
- The Downtown Seattle Association reported that 50 businesses had damaged downtown and in the neighboring Chinatown-International District.
- The Chicago Loop Alliance said at least 45 property were damaged in the downtown area by rioting that also spread into the cities suburbs.
- In Madison, Wisconsin, 75 businesses were damaged and some were looted.
The National Guard reported on Monday that it had deployed troops in 24 states to protect lives and property.
“We expect this to be a significant loss event as the impact is being experienced in large and small markets across the U.S.,” stated III spokesman Mark Friedlander. “However, because it is an ongoing event, it is premature to determine the volume of property loss that will be incurred.”
Civil disturbances generally cause modest property losses when compared to natural disasters, data from the Insurance Information Institute shows. Rioting in Los Angeles in August 1965 — the second costliest civil disorder — caused $357 million in damages, measured in 2020 dollars. Together, riots in Baltimore, Chicago and New York City in April 1968 caused $231 million in damages in today’s dollars.
By comparison, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 caused an estimated $20 billion in damages.’Verisk’s Property Claims Service over the weekend declared the riots a catastrophe event, which means it projects damages of more than $25 million.