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Riots: Legal Aspects


In dealing with riotous or potentially riotous conduct, the common law developed several crimes, including breach of the peace, unlawful assembly, rout, riot, and disorderly conduct. Numerous statutory prohibitions exist today as well. For example, the California Penal Code offenses invoked in the Watts riots of 1965 included resisting officers (§ 69), riot (§ 404), unlawful assembly (§ 407), riot-rout-unlawful assembly (§ 415), remaining present after warning to disperse (§ 409), disturbing the peace (§ 415), drawing or exhibiting firearms (§ 417), arson (§§ 447(a), 448(a)), burglary (§ 459), theft (§§ 484–485), and malicious mischief (§ 594). The curfew provisions of the California Military and Veterans Code (Cal. Mil. & Vet. Code § 1600 (1955) (repealed 1970)) were invoked as well (Note, 1967, p. 122 n. 17).

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawRiots: Legal Aspects - Introduction, Common Law, Statutory Riot Crimes, Related Statutory Offenses, The Federal Riot Act