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L.A. Now Live: Did LAPD go too far at Chalk protest downtown?

July 16, 2012 |  6:00 am

The melee that occurred in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night has raised questions about how LAPD officers handled the incident and also about gentrification in downtown L.A.

Times reporter Rosanna Xia will discuss the incident at 9 a.m.

A small group of activists gathered at the corner of 5th and Spring streets during the heart of downtown's popular monthly ArtWalk, handing out chalk to passersby and using the sidewalks as their canvas for more anti-gentrification and some anti-police slogans.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, clashes began between some activists and LAPD officers, resulting in a melee that left four officers injured and more than 15 people arrested. The LAPD called a citywide tactical alert, streamed hundreds of officers into downtown and used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

PHOTOS: Confrontation at downtown L.A. ArtWalk

The incident highlights long-simmering tensions as downtown L.A.'s major revitalization — after decades of decline — has ushered in thousands of new residents as well as upscale lofts, restaurants and galleries to the city core. The gentrification has transformed large swaths of downtown, but it has also spread into areas that were traditionally home to some of L.A.'s poorest residents.