Lakers celebration turns ugly as police, motorists come under attack
The Los Angeles Lakers victory in the NBA championships ended on a sour note as Los Angeles Police Department officers clashed with rowdy fans.
The LAPD brought large numbers of officers into the Staples Center area hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's looting and violence. But fans went on a rampage in some parts of downtown L.A., throwing rocks, shattering windows, rocking cars and setting fire to at least one vehicle and several other objects.
At Figueroa Street and Venice Boulevard, police fired less-than-lethal rounds at fans after they overturned a city parking enforcement vehicle and set fire to orange fire cones. On the LAPD's tactical frequency, officers at the intersection were heard requesting permission to fire projectiles at a group of men throwing chunks of concrete at them. The permission was granted.
Among other incidents:
--The YMCA at 11th and Olive was attacked by crowds who smashed windows and tagged walls with graffiti.
--Crowds rocked and jumped on cars around Figueroa Street and nearby roads.
--A KCAL-TV Channel 9 news van was attacked by a crowd, which smashed its windows.
--Groups were seen in several downtown locations knocking down news racks, throwing bottles at officers, setting off firecrackers and defacing signs.
The LAPD was making numerous arrests, but the exact number was not immediately available.
Police were able to clear the areas around Staples Center and the L.A. Live shopping complex. But the crowds moved into surrounding neighborhoods, causing problems. Some fans ran onto the freeway.
Police Chief Charlie Beck expressed general satisfaction with the way the massive police force was handling the challenge of dispersing 20,000 people and tamping down several violent groups.
"Obviously, some people didn't heed our admonishments to celebrate safely, but unlike last year this has never gotten out of control. This has been a controlled exercise in crowd control. Unfortunately, we've had to manage some people more than we would have wanted."
--Robert Faturechi, Kate Linthicum, Andrew Blankstein, Ruben Vives, Abby Sewell, Sam Allen, and Hector Becerra.