Some Celebrate Win by Acting Like Losers

When rowdy guys in professional sports jerseys gather, property damage can't be far behind

A classy performance on the court was followed by an  ugly scene outside Staples Center Thursday night after the Lakers won the NBA title.

"I give the game a 10, I give the celebration about a five," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said. "We still have incidents with people coming in from the outside, vandalizing,  taking over intersections, throwing rocks and bottles at police officers.

"As a matter of fact, we have a police officer injured with a broken  nose from an object thrown. We've made multiple arrests, we used  overwhelming force, we had a maximum number of police officers deployed here to  clear out the crowds around Staples Center, and we're still in the process of doing that."

A few people jumped on cars, kicked cars and threw traffic cones at cars. When they weren't busy attacking cars, they were setting fires, breaking windows, tagging buildings  and damaging property in the area around Staples Center.

As of Friday morning, the LAPD reported 38 arrests. And, surprise, most (34) were males.

Fifteen people were arrested for felonies, 22 for misdemeanors. LAPD spokeswoman Mary Grady said people were arrested for public drunkenness, vandalism and inciting a riot.

Unlike last year, no busses were destroyed in the making of this post-game mayhem.

For people who live downtown, being in the middle of the action suddenly didn't seem like such a good idea.

Jazmine Rodriguez, 24, lives in an apartment building not far from Staples Center. She said every car on her street had its windows smashed.

"When we came down here, only one window was smashed. The cops told us to go back inside, and they (revelers) smashed the other one," Rodriguez told the Associated Press.

Delmi Ramos tried to salvage what she could from her car, which was filled with shards of broken glass.

"We just wanted to see the celebration and be part of the Lakers' win. We never thought this would happen," she said. "It's these young people who don't know how to behave. They cause damage to people, to the community, because they don't know how to celebrate in a healthy way."

Officers staged outside Staples Center started dispersing crowds during the first half of the game.

The game ended just before 9 p.m. Thursday and, by midnight, the Los  Angeles Fire Department had responded to three vehicle fires, one vegetation  fire and 15 rubbish fires within a half-mile radius of Staples Center, LAFD  spokesman Brian Humphrey said. In that same area, the fire department handled 18 medical aid requests,  and eight people were taken to hospitals, Humphrey said.

At least one police car was damaged, Beck said. 

Shortly after the game ended, police declared an "unlawful assembly" and started breaking up the crowd, forming a skirmish line at Figueroa and 11th  streets.

The crowd was pushed away from the intersection, but some revelers  continued to spar with police.

In East Los Angeles, a crowd gathered on Whittier Boulevard, but no  major problems were reported there, said Capt. Mike Parker of the Sheriff's  Headquarters Bureau.

Hundreds of sheriff's deputies were in the area, which was closed to  vehicle traffic between Eastern and Garfield avenues, he said. It's unclear how  many arrests were made by deputies assigned to the sheriff's East Los Angeles  station.

The Times reported that police fired non-lethal rounds into a crowd  after a parking enforcement vehicle was overturned and some orange traffic  cones were set on fire at Figueroa Street and Venice Boulevard. According to  the L.A. Now blog, police asked for permission to fire on men throwing concrete  chunks at them.

Los Angeles police had five times the presence compared to last year,  when the Lakers won in Florida and some vandalism occurred during the post-game  celebration near Staples Center.

Humphrey of the fire department did not know many fires were reported.

On June 14, 2009, the Lakers sealed an NBA championship with a victory  in Florida against the Orlando Magic. That night in Los Angeles, there was a  melee outside Staples Center that included a bonfire.

A shoe store was broken into and looted; a gas station was looted; a  Metro Blue Line train was damaged; about a dozen LAPD vehicles and a sheriff's  vehicle were damaged; and six Metro buses were damaged. Several LAPD officers  were hurt, and more than a dozen people were arrested.

On Wednesday, following a yearlong probe, law enforcement officers in  Los Angeles and Riverside counties raided 31 addresses and arrested at least as  many members of the OCP tagging crew that allegedly vandalized a Metro bus  after the Lakers' 2009 win.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us