George Floyd Protests Could Prove to Be Most Expensive Civil Disturbance in U.S. History

Insurance experts and city officials across the country claim that the riots and demonstrations following the death of George Floyd could shape to be the costliest disorder in U.S. history, Fox News reports.

From police overtime to losses from fire, as well as theft and other destruction, costs of the unrest are adding up. And for the first time since statistics were collected in 1950, the insurance industry has labeled this a “riot and civil disorder” catastrophe in multiple states.

“The riots in the Minneapolis area are the first riot and civil disorder event designated by [Property Claim Services] since the 2015 Baltimore riots,” said Tom Johansmeyer, CEO of Property Claim Services (PCS). “We continue to monitor for insured losses outside Minnesota, and the event has become the first PCS and civil disorder event to include more than one state.”

Thousands of people have peacefully demonstrated across the country against Floyd’s death, but in the early days, protests escalated into violence and vandalism in a number of cities at night.

In the past, the costliest civil disorder event in U.S. was the 1992 Los Angeles riots, according to PCS, the insurance industry’s primary source for compiling and reporting insured losses resulting from catastrophes, from hurricanes to wildfires.

That five-day event caused about $1.4 billion in 2020 dollars, according to PCS. Two days of riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray caused $26 million in losses in Baltimore alone.

However, losses stemming from the Floyd protests are likely to far exceed that. In Minneapolis, where some 400 businesses were damaged, owners and insurance experts estimate costs of the damage to exceed $500 million, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I am confident to say we will be seeing collectively more substantial losses than we have seen in these single city incidents,” said CEO Sean Kevelighan with the Insurance Information Institute.

Nationwide, Floyd related protests and riots lasted three weeks in 140 U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., New York; Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

By the beginning of June, at least 40 cities in 23 states had imposed curfews. High-end boutiques in Beverly Hills and New York like Gucci and Chanel were looted, luxury stores in Santa Monica and big box retailers like Target and Macy’s across the U.S. have suffered tens of millions in losses, Fox News adds.

In California, the state general services department says it spent $2 million repairing state buildings, from boarding up windows to repairing granite and removing graffiti. The state also spent over $38.2 million in California Highway Patrol overtime costs and $25 million deploying the National Guard.

In Seattle, taxpayers spent $6.3 million in overtime, $67,478 on riot gear and $31,172 on pepper spray, flash bangs and other less than lethal weapons, according to SPD. Police overtime in Portland, Oregon totaled $6.2 million.

LAPD patrol cars cost $80,000 each. Eight, according to the department, were totaled and 148 others were damaged, with broken windows, slashed tires and graffitti scrawled across the cars saying “murderers,” “kill all cops” and “say his name.”

LAPD racked up $40 million in overtime — but because the city is out of cash, a memo from Chief Michael Moore says officers must take comp time, leaving fewer officers on the street.

In Tucson, police overtime for one night May 30 cost taxpayers more than $100,000 for 239 employees, about the annual salaries of two rookie officers. On that same Saturday night, Cleveland police racked up $3 million in overtime. Even small towns incurred costs: Fargo, N.D., spent $840,000 and Harrisburg, Pa., $50,000 in overtime, Fox News added.

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