In time, the tension in Baltimore will subside and the rabble rousers, hucksters, and drive-by media will leave just ask quickly as they arrived. They will forget Baltimore and move on. But the citizens of Baltimore won’t forget, and they won’t be able to move on, not for a very long time.

Lost in the conversation about criminal justice reform and the social and economic problems of the inner city is the tremendous, long-lasting toll that riots take on a city.

Ferguson, Missouri is still reeling from the November riots over Michael Brown’s death and subsequent trial. According to one analysis of home sale data, “Since Michael Brown’s death, the cost per square foot of a home has dropped by 47 percent in Ferguson.” Or put another way: “Prior to Brown’s death, the average home sold in 2014 was selling for $66,764. For the last three and a half months of the year, the average home sold for $36,168, a 46 percent decrease.” The whole city of Ferguson has been punished by the rioting and looting of a select group of criminals, many of whom weren’t even from Ferguson.

And yet, Ferguson has only seen the initial impact of a riot; the real impact can last decades.

In 2004, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) commissioned two studies on the economic impact of the approximately 700 riots that took place between 1964 and 1971. The damage from these riots was inflicted predominantly on black neighborhoods and communities.

The two studies by William Collins and Robert Margo tracked the economic impact of the riots from the time they occurred to decades later. Their findings were astounding.

First, they examined income and unemployment rates. The studies found “a relative decline in median black family income of approximately 9 percent in cities that experienced severe riots relative to those that did not.”

Furthermore, when the time frame was broadened to 1960 to 1980, Collins and Margo report that “severe riot cities had relative declines in male employment rates of 4 to 7 percentage points. Individual-level data for the 1970s suggests that this decline was especially large for men under the age of 30.”

Next, Collins and Margo examined the impact on property values, particularly black-owned properties. They discovered that “the riots significantly depressed the median value of black-owned property between 1960 and 1970, with little or no rebound in the 1970s. The baseline estimates for severe-riot cities relative to small-or-no-riot cities range from approximately 14 to 20 percent for black-owned properties, and from 6 to 10 percent for all central-city residential properties.”

And looking at the impact over time, Collins and Margo came to the eye-opening conclusion: The riots had economically significant negative effects on blacks’ income and employment. Further, those effects may have been larger in the long run – from 1960 to 1980 – than in the short run – from 1960 to 1970.”

In other words, the damage from severe riots lasts decades and it takes decades for the worst of the damage to even sink in.

The results of the Collins and Margo studies affirm what we see with our own eyes today in places like South Central L.A., which still hasn’t recovered from the riots in 1992, or the parts of Miami that still aren’t the same since the 1980 riots.

These findings are not counter-intuitive. After seeing stores looted and burned in Baltimore, business owners aren’t lining up saying, “Now there’s a great investment opportunity.” In reality, any business or investor that was thinking of building in that area of Baltimore will now move elsewhere. Sound economic development follows cold, calculated planning based on risk assessment and return on investment, not sympathy or nostalgia.

So while these rioters in Baltimore ransacked stores and torched cars and business, not only did they detract from the peaceful protestors seeking justice for Freddie Gray, they also crippled the entire inner city community of Baltimore for decades, perhaps even longer.

These rioters should not be let off easily. They have committed a crime against the community and deserve stiff punishment. Furthermore, cities and its leaders should never tolerate riots or, in the now immortal words of Baltimore’s mayor, give “those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.”