The Associated Press (AP) this week decided to make an amendment to their “AP Stylebook,” which discourages the use of the word “riot” to describe violent protests. In a corresponding move, AP expanded the definition of a “protest” to include violent demonstrations.
The “AP Stylebook” sets guidelines followed by many mainstream media outlets and publications. “Use care in deciding which term best applies: A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium,” says the stylebook,
In place of the word “riot,” AP suggests the use of the word “unrest” when referring to property destruction caused by rioting. According to AP “Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt.”
This recommendation comes after months of looting and rioting across the country in the wake of the George Floyd death. Riots across the country have also injured a number of law enforcement officials, and includes the month’s-long riots that have been unfolding in Portland, Ore.
Turning to the dictionary, Merriam-Webster defines riot as “violent public disorder, specifically a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three of more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent.”
AP often comes under fire for being politically correct and favoring a left-leaning style of writing. This “suggestion” could potentially cause unrest for their critics