Interesting to explore some episodes when the police were off duty to see what happened, promoted by the editorial in The Spectator, speculating that the wealthy would organize private security, well-armed people in the US would defend themselves and the poor would suffer. This has been well-documented for major riots of this kind in the recent past.
Boston 1919. The strike prompted a lot of property damage but did not seriously endanger the safety of the community-partly due to the quick response of the government. Calvin Coolidge, governor of Massachusetts at the time, called out the militia to assist Harvard students and faculty who were acting as a volunteer force. (He later used the incident to boost himself to the presidency.)
Victoria 1923. On the eve of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival in November 1923, half the police force in Melbourne went on strike over the operation of a supervisory system using labour spies. Riots and looting followed as crowds poured forth from Flinders Street railway station on the Friday and Saturday nights and made their way up Elizabeth and Swanston Streets, smashing shop windows, looting, and overturning trams.
Constables on point duty were jeered at and harassed by people until they retreated to the Town Hall, where the crowd taunted them to come out. Tramways staff and uniformed sailors helped to direct traffic in the absence of police.
A request by the Premier to the Federal Government for troops to prevent and put down trouble was refused, however Sir Harry Chauvel and other army chiefs appointed guards on defence establishments. Over the weekend five thousand volunteer ‘special constables’ were sworn in to restore order, under the direction of Sir John Monash at the Melbourne Town Hall and led by AIF veterans and CMF officers. They were identified by badges and armbands.
The rioting and looting was quickly attributed to Melbourne’s criminal element by all of Melbourne’s newspapers, but subsequent court records show that most of the offenders who were apprehended were young men and boys without criminal histories.
Baltimore 1974. On July 7, police launched a campaign of intentional misbehavior and silliness; on July 11 they began a formal strike. The department reported an increase in fires and looting, and the understaffed BPD soon received support from Maryland State Police.
Ecuador 2010. The 2010 Ecuador crisis took place on 30 September 2010, when elements of the National Police blockaded highways, occupied the National Parliament, blocked the Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito and the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, and took over TV Ecuador’s station, in what they claimed was a strike to oppose a government-sponsored law that supposedly reduced their benefits. Unrest and looting was reported in seven provincial capitals of the country due to the lack of law enforcement.
Argentina 2013. The looting began on 3 December in Cordoba, Argentina’s second-largest city, when the provincial police force went on strike. More than 1,000 stores were robbed, hundreds of people were injured and one person was killed.
Forces in 20 of Argentina’s 24 provinces followed the example of their colleagues in Cordoba, inviting widespread robbery and violence. Opportunistic members of the public “broke through shop windows and wrenched open doors to load up wheelbarrows and horse-drawn carriages with food, clothing and furniture”. By 11 December, most governors had settled with their police forces, offering salary raises of as much as 45%. In many of these cases, lootings were carried out by organized criminals on motorcycles or by foot, who broke in different neighborhoods to steal anything they could find around them. They carried firearms and sticks, among other items.
As a result of the numerous riots and looting in most districts, 18 deaths were recorded (although this is not an official figure) and hundreds injured, especially due to armed clashes taking place in the Tucumán Province.
London 1918. The swiftness of the strike and the solidarity of the men shocked the government. By the next day, 30 August, 12,000 men were on strike, virtually the entire complement of men in the Metropolitan Force. The government deployed troops at key points across the capital in response and its priority was to end the strike. Prime Minister Lloyd George, who had been in France when the strike started, called a meeting on the 31st with the executive of NUPPO, and the strike was settled that same day.