"Knuckleheads" Run Wild After Lakers Win

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    NEWSLETTERS

    RMG News
    Vandals turn on a Metro bus in downtown LA.

    At least 17 people were arrested and eight officers injured after thousands of people took to the streets following the team's championship victory in Orlando in a celebration that turned ugly when a number of "knuckleheads" started fires, looted several stores, tried to overturn cars and assaulted police.

    The majority of the crowds celebrated without causing problems after the Lakers secured their 15th NBA trophy but a small group of people, whom police Chief William Bratton termed, "knuckleheads," began to vandalize the area outside the downtown arena.

    Metro Bus Pelted After Lakers Victory

    [LA] Metro Bus Pelted After Lakers Victory
    Vandals turn on a Metro bus in downtown LA. (Published Monday, Jun 15, 2009)

    When some climbed a statue outside Staples Center, police shooed them away, but were not immediately trying to disperse the festive crowd. Others lit fireworks, started mosh pits, set bonfires, committed vandalism, looted stores, tried to overturn vehicles and pelted police with bottles, rocks and even fire crackers.

    Police were out in force, and manage to split the crowd into smaller groups even as they became targets for fan violence. Five officers were injured when fans hurled bricks and bottles, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Andy Mathes of the Central Station.

    The officer's injuries were considered minor, according to authorities.

    Police arrested people for arson, vandalism and failing to disperse, Mathes said.

    Lakers Fan Celebrate in East LA

    [LA] Lakers Fan Celebrate in East LA
    Lakers fans show their pride Sunday night in East Los Angeles. (Published Sunday, Jun 14, 2009)

    Outside Staples Center, several mosh pits developed, with fans running into each other, and some started a small bonfire in the street, prompting police to move in and put it out.

    Nearby streets were closed to traffic so fans could celebrate on Chick Hearn Court.

    Laker Fans Celebrate Game 4 Victory

    [LA] Laker Fans Celebrate Game 4 Victory
    Laker fans in East L.A. went to the streets to celebrate their team's Game 4 victory in the NBA Finals. (Published Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009)

    The main crowd began breaking up around 9 p.m. Sunday, leaving behind troublemakers, who set trees on fire and shook vehicles that were leaving the area.

    A few blocks away from Staples, on 12th Street near Pico Boulevard, about 100 people in a splinter group threw traffic-control flares at vehicles, while motorists barreled through the crowd so they would not have their vehicles rocked or overturned.

    At Pico and Flower Street, revelers broke the glass windows of a shoe store and looted the business. A Shell gas station at Olympic Boulevard and Grand Avenue also was looted.

    On Figueroa Street, underneath the Santa Monica Freeway overpass, rioters attacked an abandoned Metro bus and covered it with graffiti, said Los Angeles police Officer Karen Rayner.

    In East Los Angeles, hundreds of people congregated at the intersection of Whittier and Atlantic boulevards, which was blocked to traffic, while police were on every corner to monitor the reveling.

    Disturbances have followed Lakers championship victories in the past, and fans took to the streets and began shaking vehicles in East Los Angeles Thursday night after the Lakers beat the Magic in overtime to gave the team a 3-1 lead in the series.

    Fans gathered at Whittier and Atlantic boulevards and rocked vehicles stopped at a traffic light, but no injuries were reported. Two people were arrested.

    Street disturbances also followed Lakers championship victories in 2000, 2001 and 2002.