In response to all of the public cries over rowdy protests at the G20, I thought it wise to point out that rioting can and has changed the world, many times.

1. Stonewall Riots – 1969, New York – In response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a prominent Greenwich Village gay bar, and to the general tactic of targetting gays, lesbians and transgendered folk, all of the above rioted. The Stonewall Riots are a considered a turning point in the American history of GBLT rights.
LA Times Link

2. Rodney King Riots – 1992, Los Angeles – one of many famous and influential race riots, it was also unbelievably violent – more than fifty people were killed and over a billion dollars of property damage was done after almost a week of rioting. The riots were sparked by video footage of a brutal police beating of Rodney King. After the riots, the officers involved were charged and he was given a large settlement.
Wikipedia Link

3. Seattle WTO Protests – 1999, Seattle – As the World Trade Organization attempted to meet in their city, tens of thousands of protesters managed to halt the summit with a mix of nonviolent tactics (such as blocking roads to the meetings by sitting down in the street) and black block rioting. Seattle made globalization into a household word, and shone the light of day on back-room trade policy dealing. Since Seattle, more than a decade of other protests like it have rocked groups like the IMF, OAS, WEF, G8 and G20.
Zmedia Link

4. Cochabamba Water Wars – 2000, Bolivial – In the face of water privatization policies which were denying water to the city’s poor, a wide array of protests, including a general strike, rocked the city. Demonstrators clashed with police – 70 protesters and over fifty police were injured. In the wake of the “Water Wars”, water privatization was reversed and the people of the city and the protests have since been a global inspiration to other communities fighting water privatization.
Wikipedia Link

5. Haymarket Square – 1886, Chicago
– During a rally in Haymarket Square to support striking workers and argue for shorter workdays, the police ordered the crowd to disperse. A bomb was thrown at police lines (to this date, nobody really knows who threw it), and fierce fighting broke out, with police firing into the crowd. Organizers of the rally were put on trial and convicted on the basis that they were Anarchists and thus they were guilty. Many, including the original August Spies, were put to death. The trial and executions outraged and infuriated workers worldwide, and to this day, we still celebrate May Day to remember them.
Wikipedia Link

6 .Pakistan – 2007 – The assasination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto ignited long-standing outrage at Pakistan’s brutal and corrupt military dictator, Perez Musharraf, and riots quickly spread across the country. This highlighted Musharraf’s tyranny to the world, and by the end of the next year he had been deposed by a coalition government.
Wikipedia Link

7. Argentina – 2001 – After years of failing economic policy and interference by groups like the IMF, the Argentinian people took to the streets throughout the nation and the government was forced to declare a state of siege. President Fernando de la Rua was forced to step down and flee by helicopter on national television. The new government was forced into economic and social reforms, and the protests stood as an example to developing nations all over the world.
Wikipedia Link

8. DNC – 1968, Chicago – At the height of America’s hippy rebellion in the 1960s, massive protests broke out around the Democratic National Convention, to protest the two-party rule which still strangles democracy in their country. And the shooting death of a black youth, Dean Johnson, by police, ignited a generation’s rage over civil rights and the war in Vietnam. Hundreds rioted in the streets of Chicago for days, injuring over a hundred and fifty cops. The trial that ensued caused the “Chicago Seven” national celebrity – figures who are still famous, like Abbie Hoffman.
wikipedia Link

9. Gastown Police Riot – 1971, Vancouver – prompted by a wave of police drug raids, a group of peaceful demonstrators staged a smoke-in to protest the drug war in Maple Tree Square and were attacked by police. In what has since been called a “police riot” by a federal inquiry, the cops attacked everyone in sight and vastly overstepped their boundaries. Protesters fought back with rocks and bottles, and the The Battle of Maple Tree Square has been rememberd since as a precedent-setting case of police brutality. Link

10 .Tibet – 2008 – After decades of brutal Communist occupation, a large group of Buddhist monks attempted yet another peaceful protest for Tibetan Independence. Chinese police attacked and sparked weeks of rioting across occupied Tibet. With the world’s focus on China thanks to the Olympics, this brought a renewed worldwide attention to a free Tibet.
Wikipedia Link

(A note on Wikipedia sources: I recognize that wikipedia isn’t a terribly radical or academic source, but I like using it because it shows a fairly good glimpse of publicly recognized history.)