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At least 25 arrested amid unrest after Lakers victory

June 14, 2009 | 11:16 pm

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[Updated 11:50 p.m.:  The LAPD says at least 25 people have been arrested.]

What started as a celebration of the Lakers' NBA Championship turned ugly when some revelers in downtown Los Angeles sparked fires, vandalized cars and buildings, set off fireworks, looted stores and clashed with police.

At least eight people were arrested, most at the Staples Center and a few others at a smaller gathering in the Crenshaw District, Los Angeles Police Department  officials said.  Most arrests involved disturbing the peace but there was one arson case.

Authorities said several police cars were damaged along with several MTA buses and a KABC-TV Channel 7 news van. Some fans marched up an onramp to the 110 Freeway and cheered passing cars. 

There were also scattered reports of looting.  A crowd broke the window of shoe store and ran through a gas station mini-mart, stealing products. 

By 11 p.m., the crowd -- which once measured more than 1,000 -- had thinned out, and police were trying to break up small groups of Lakers fans causing trouble. Earlier, groups roamed the streets around the Staples Center, shaking passing cars and throwing debris. The situation worsened as Lakers fans in cars poured into the South Park area, some waving Lakers flags and cheering. 

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton told KTTV Channel 11 that the crowd threw rocks and bottles at some officers and that he was proud of his department's response. He described the people causing the problems as "knuckleheads" and "cowards."

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were out in force in East Los Angeles, where some fans got out of hand after a Lakers victory last week. Celebrants were on the streets cheering and setting off some fireworks, but deputies reported no major problems.  Deputies did close Whittier Boulevard for a while.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz at Staples Center and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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