Goat rope (also referred to as goat rodeo) is an expression that refers to a hectic, confusing, disorganized situation, often with too many people involved.
Mainstream media usually uses the expression in TV news-broadcasts and in print when showing situations where law-enforcement is involved, such as arrests or gunfights in public places that involve multiple personnel, often involving civilians.
The expression started to appear in the early 1900s, originating from the activity of multiple people attempting to catch goats with ropes, which was a common sight at fairs in the U.S.
This exercise was often very fast-paced and hectic due to its nature, and eventually became a catchphrase that is used to describe any situation that depicts a similarly fashioned scenario.
From the 1970s, goat rope has been used as a jargon in the U.S. Military to describe an operation or undertaking involving an unnecessarily large number of people, most of them contributing nothing or actually impeding progress.
In 2020, a series of footage was uploaded on YouTube by the channel Active Self Protection, which shows the events of a brutal, chaotic police procedure in New Orleans. The video received the title “Goat Rope Caught on Badge Cams New Orleans”, and has generated over 1.5 million views to date.