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Mapping Civil Unrest in the United States (2000–2020)

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Civil Unrest in the United States

Note: Due to widespread nature of protests related to the killing of George Floyd, we only evaluated the 32 urban areas in the U.S. with populations of 1.5 million or more.

Mapping Civil Unrest in the United States (2000–2020)

See a static version of these maps by clicking here.

Protests are a regular feature of democratic society, but they can occasionally cross over from non-violent demonstrations into civil unrest. Even protests that are largely peaceful can still result in arrests, violence, police aggression, and property damage.

Our animated map above looks at the last two decades of civil unrest in the United States using lists compiled on Wikipedia.

Instances of civil unrest eventually leave the news cycle, and we rarely have the chance to examine the bigger picture or see where they fit within a nation-wide pattern.

civil unrest in the united states

From this map we can see that certain cities, such as St. Louis and Oakland, have been disproportionately impacted by civil unrest. As well, universities have also been hotspots for rioting, though often for much different reasons.

Looking back over two decades, we see that instances of civil unrest in the United States have fallen into roughly four categories:

  1. Economic and social injustice
  2. Sports and event related riots
  3. Politically motivated civil unrest
  4. Reaction to police actions

Let’s take a look at a prominent example in each of these categories, to get further context.

Examples of Civil Unrest, by Category

1. Economic and Social Justice

One of the most prominent examples in this category is the Occupy Wall Street movement. The protests began in September 2011 in Downtown Manhattan, and soon spread through cities throughout the world.

In 2016, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests grabbed headlines around the world as protesters faced off against armed soldiers and police with riot gear and military equipment. By the time camps were broken up the next year, hundreds of people had been arrested.

2. Sports and Event Related Riots

Between 2000 and 2010, the majority of incidents plotted on the map are related to sports and events. This includes major sporting events like the L.A. Lakers championship win in 2000, but also the University of Maryland riot of 2004, where rowdy post-game celebrations crossed over into arson and property damage.

A more recent example is the Philadelphia Eagles’ first-ever Super Bowl victory in 2018, where celebrations eventually got out of hand.

3. Politically Motivated Civil Unrest

The political divide has been growing in America for years now, but those differences more frequently resulted in confrontations and civil unrest in 2016. After the election of Donald Trump, for example, protests erupted in many cities, with riots breaking out in Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California.

Of course, the “Bundy standoff” – an armed confrontation between supporters of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and law enforcement over withheld grazing fees – showed that not all civil unrest takes place in America’s cities.

4. Reaction to Police Actions

Some of the biggest flashpoints seen in recent years have been in response to people who were killed by police.

In fact, more than half of the points on our map were a direct response to incidents in which a person – typically a black male – died at the hands of law enforcement officials. In previous years, the unrest that followed was typically confined to the cities where the death took place, but protests are now increasingly erupting in cities around the country.

The Situation Now

The death of George Floyd – the latest black male to be killed during an encounter with law enforcement – has had a ripple effect, spawning protests in cities around the United States and internationally.

As our map showing the history of civil unrest makes clear, excessive force from police against black citizens is nothing new. The data shows that black men have by far the highest risk of being killed in an encounter with law enforcement.

Lifetime risk of being killed by police

Until these systemic issues are addressed, history may not be repeat exactly, but the rhyme will sound very, very familiar.

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Maps

The Largest Earthquakes in the New York Area (1970-2024)

The earthquake that shook buildings across New York in April 2024 was the third-largest quake in the Northeast U.S. over the past 50 years.

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Map of earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.0 or greater recorded in the northeastern U.S. since 1970.

The Largest Earthquakes in the New York Area

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on Apple or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The 4.8 magnitude earthquake that shook buildings across New York on Friday, April 5th, 2024 was the third-largest quake in the U.S. Northeast area over the past 50 years.

In this map, we illustrate earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.0 or greater recorded in the Northeastern U.S. since 1970, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Shallow Quakes and Older Buildings

The earthquake that struck the U.S. Northeast in April 2024 was felt by millions of people from Washington, D.C., to north of Boston. It even caused a full ground stop at Newark Airport.

The quake, occurring just 5 km beneath the Earth’s surface, was considered shallow, which is what contributed to more intense shaking at the surface.

According to the USGS, rocks in the eastern U.S. are significantly older, denser, and harder than those on the western side, compressed by time. This makes them more efficient conduits for seismic energy. Additionally, buildings in the Northeast tend to be older and may not adhere to the latest earthquake codes.

Despite disrupting work and school life, the earthquake was considered minor, according to the Michigan Technological University magnitude scale:

MagnitudeEarthquake EffectsEstimated Number
Each Year
2.5 or lessUsually not felt, but can be
recorded by seismograph.
Millions
2.5 to 5.4Often felt, but only causes
minor damage.
500,000
5.5 to 6.0Slight damage to buildings
and other structures.
350
6.1 to 6.9May cause a lot of damage
in very populated areas.
100
7.0 to 7.9Major earthquake.
Serious damage.
10-15
8.0 or greaterGreat earthquake. Can totally
destroy communities near the
epicenter.
One every year
or two

The largest earthquake felt in the area over the past 50 years was a 5.3 magnitude quake that occurred in Au Sable Forks, New York, in 2002. It damaged houses and cracked roads in a remote corner of the Adirondack Mountains, but caused no injuries.

DateMagnitudeLocationState
April 20, 20025.3Au Sable ForksNew York
October 7, 19835.1NewcombNew York
April 5, 20244.8Whitehouse StationNew Jersey
October 16, 20124.7Hollis CenterMaine
January 16, 19944.6Sinking SpringPennsylvania
January 19, 19824.5SanborntonNew Hampshire
September 25, 19984.5AdamsvillePennsylvania
June 9, 19754.2AltonaNew York
May 29, 19834.2PeruMaine
April 23, 19844.2ConestogaPennsylvania
January 16, 19944.2Sinking SpringPennsylvania
November 3, 19754Long LakeNew York
June 17, 19914WorcesterNew York

The largest earthquake in U.S. history, however, was the 1964 Good Friday quake in Alaska, measuring 9.2 magnitude and killing 131 people.

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