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Calm returning to downtown L.A. after violence following Lakers game

June 18, 2010 | 12:37 am

A sense of calm began to return to downtown Los Angeles early Friday after rowdy crowds clashed with police, set fire to vehicles and smashed windows following the Lakers NBA championship victory over the Celtics.


Police fired non-lethal rounds to disperse the crowd at Figueroa Street and Venice Boulevard after several small fires were set, as well as at 11th and Hope streets. At 7th and Flower streets, a taxicab was engulfed in flames.

At least one person was beaten as fights broke out on Flower Street near Olympic Boulevard. A bicyclist was injured when struck by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicle near 11th and Flower streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

In all, there were multiple injuries but no loss of life, officials said. One police officer suffered a broken nose.

As night wore on, fire crews responded to many rubbish fires and some vehicle fires, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. At least 12 people were arrested on suspicion of crimes that included public drunkenness, vandalism and inciting a riot. One person was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer, authorities said.

At La Bella Cucina, customers began throwing bottles, knocking over tables and stealing bottles of liquor, said restaurant manager Christian LaBella.

"I think it's pretty sad, especially when customers turn on you so quickly," LaBella said late Thursday. "They lost respect for themselves, they lost respect for the Lakers, and they lost respect for the restaurant. It's a shame for L.A."

"A lot of stupid, stupid people out here tonight," added Edward Lizama, 42, who lives in an apartment near 9th and Olive streets. "This isn't people having fun. It's ridiculous."

The violence broke out shortly after the game ended. The LAPD declared an unlawful assembly as people gathered along Figueroa Street near Olympic Boulevard. Hundreds of officers in patrol cars, on foot and on horseback moved in to clear streets and break up the crowds.

At 8th and Figueroa, fans and a phalanx of more than two dozen police, wearing riot gear and wielding batons, faced off. The standoff began when a bunch of fans tore down a traffic sign and then ripped out two newspaper stands and lighted the papers on fire. When the police marched up Figueroa, about two dozen abreast, the crowd slowly receded. Some people were throwing energy drinks, which had been passed out for free after the win.

The YMCA at 11th and Olive was vandalized as taggers marked graffiti up and down the side of a wall. Another person upended a traffic sign and bashed in several windows.

Shortly after 11 p.m., the burned-out shell of the taxi cab stood in the middle of Flower and 7th. Shards of broken glass lay scattered on ground as a man jumped on top of the vehicle while a friend snapped a photo.

An LAPD cruiser pulled up and shined a light on the men. "Let's go. Night's over," an officer said through a loudspeaker.

-- Sam Allen, Tony Barboza, Hector Becerra, Andrew Blankstein, Paloma Esquivel, Robert Faturechi, Kate Linthicum, Robert J. Lopez, Joel Rubin and Ruben Vives

 
Photo:

(Gary Friedman / LosAngeles Times / June 17, 2010)
Fans on Figueroa Street celebrate the Lakers' victory over the Celtics.

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