The Police Strike of 1977 was an event quite significant because of its effect on both American society and the lives and crime-fighting careers of the story's main characters.
In 1977, fearing that their jobs were being threatened by costumed adventurers, police officers engaged in a national strike. Consequently, costumed heroes were forced to deal with rioting crowds in major cities. In Washington, D.C., Doctor Manhattan and Laurie Juspeczyk dealt with an increasingly hostile crowd outside the White House grounds. When the demonstrators refused to leave at Manhattan's request, he teleported them to their individual homes. Manhattan later read a news report that two of the demonstrators suffered heart attacks. Manhattan concluded that "More surely would have died during a riot."
In New York City, Nite Owl II and the Comedian work together to quell a large group of violent rioters. The Comedian, standing outside at the front of Nite Owl's Owlship, tosses a riot gas bomb into the crowd, causing them to disperse, then goes after a few stragglers with more gas bombs, shooting one of them directly.