Seventy-six people were arrested in California Sunday night as rioters rampaged through downtown Los Angeles during a celebration of the Lakers’ victory in the NBA championship. The team defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
More than 1,000 fans were celebrating around the Staple Center when people began to hurl flashbang firecrackers, glass bottles, rocks and other objects at a line of police officers, injuring eight.
Police responded by firing plastic projectiles, hard foam and beanbags. Local television station KABC showed rioters kicking and throwing projectiles at the windows of a police car as officers attempted to reverse.
Three people in the crowd were injured by “less lethal munitions fired by our officers,” according to a statement issued Monday by the Los Angeles Police Department.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus was set on fire as it attempted to drive through the mobs while cars spun out in the streets.
Video from the scene near Grand Avenue and Olympic Boulevard showed at least a dozen people on top of the bus as a small fire burned on one of the seats inside.
The driver repeatedly honked his horn as rioters smashed the windows and spray-painted graffiti — including the words “Kobe” and “Gigi” — all over the exterior and interior before he fled.
Looters descended on several local stores, including a Starbucks near 9th Street and Flower Street which was still partially boarded up Monday.
One reveler was taken to the hospital after fireworks “burned off at least one of his hands,” according to KABC. The station also aired footage of a police bus filled with fans at around 11:00 p.m. who were arrested during the celebration, and others handcuffed and lined up on a sidewalk.
Police said in a statement: “What started out as a largely peaceful celebration of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA championship in downtown Los Angeles, turned into confrontational, violent and destructive behavior late last night.
A crowd of more than 1,000 revelers descended into the area around Staples Center after the game. Unruly individuals mixed within the crowd began throwing glass bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers. That is when an unlawful assembly was declared, and only a limited number of people complied and began to disperse.
A larger portion of the group broke off and began vandalizing businesses while continuing to engage in violent behavior, some aimed at responding officers.
In total, 76 individuals were arrested for Vandalism, Assault on a Police Officer, and Failure to Disperse. Two of the members of the crowd were injured by less lethal munitions fired by our officers, and they were taken to area hospitals. Eight police officers were also injured and received medical treatment. More than 30 buildings and establishments were damaged by the crowd, as well as a city MTA bus.”