Fan Celebration of Lakers Victory near Staples Center Prompts Police Response

Taylor Martinez

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Several thousand Lakers fans flocked to the area outside the Staples Center to celebrate the team’s 17th NBA Championship, and some people in the crowd vandalized property and looted businesses, prompting police to make more than 75 arrests and freeway ramps leading to the area were closed until Monday morning.

Eight officers suffered injuries, and two people in the crowd were injured by “less lethal munitions fired by our officers,” the Los Angeles Police Department reported about 8 a.m. Monday. More than 30 buildings were damaged, police said.

There were 76 arrests for various crimes, including vandalism, assault on a police officer, and failure to disperse, police said.

“What started out as a largely peaceful celebration of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA championship in downtown Los Angeles turned into confrontational, violent and destructive behavior late last night,” the LAPD said in a statement.

“A crowd of more than 1,000 revelers descended into the area around Staples Center after the game. Unruly individuals mixed within the crowd began throwing glass bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers. That is when an unlawful assembly was declared, and only a limited number of people complied and began to disperse,” the LAPD said.

“A larger portion of the group broke off and began vandalizing business while continuing to engage in violent behavior, some aimed at responding officers,” the LAPD said.

Officers in riot gear were shown in videos from the scene firing non- lethal rounds at celebrants who threw fireworks, rocks and bottles at police after they were ordered to disperse. Video also showed people in the crowd trying to damage police vehicles by kicking and throwing objects at them.

Videos just after 11 p.m. Sunday showed a police bus filled with fans apparently arrested by Los Angeles police officers around Staples Center during a celebration, and others handcuffed and lined up on a sidewalk.

Also after 11 p.m., a photo posted on Twitter showed several Lakers fans standing atop an orange MTA bus spray-painted with graffiti. Another picture amid reports of looting showed a Starbucks that had been looted and painted with graffiti.

Before the scene began to turn ugly, people were seen dancing on Chick Hearn Court and Figueroa Street and setting off firecrackers. Cars were also seen doing donuts on the streets.

At around 10 p.m., video showed paramedics loading a person into a Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance at Figueroa and 11th streets.

At the request of the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert and blocked the northbound Pico Boulevard and Ninth Street off-ramps from the Harbor (110) Freeway, as well as the Pico Boulevard off-ramp from the eastbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway. Those ramps were reopened at 1:08 a.m., according to CHP Officer Patrick Kimball.

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