Jubilant celebration over Lakers win turns rowdy

Associated Press
6/18/2010 12:02:36 PM
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LOS ANGELES -- A jubilant celebration over the Los Angeles Lakers' dramatic win in the NBA championship game turned rowdy in scattered sections of the city, with raucous revellers hurling rocks and bottles at police, setting fires and jumping on vehicles.

Police spokesman Cleon Joseph said Friday 38 people had been arrested, most for public intoxication and others for vandalism and inciting a riot.

Television news footage showed one man being beaten and a car set on fire. Broken glass and burnt debris lined the streets.

Several people were seen jumping on a taxi as it attempted to leave the area near the arena after the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 83-79.

Someone opened a rear door of the vehicle while others rocked it back and forth. The taxi eventually made its way through the crowd and out of the area.

Some men ran shirtless in the streets, while other people revved car engines and honked their horns in celebration. Some people set off fireworks.

Hundreds of officers massed around Staples Center before Game 7 of the NBA finals Thursday night, aiming to prevent a repeat of the violence after the Lakers' championship win last year.

Despite the massive deployment, pockets of violence erupted in neighbourhoods near the arena, and there were reports of windows being broken at businesses.

No major problems were reported in the rest of the city.

Jazmine Rodriguez, 24, lives in an apartment building not far from Staples Center. She said every car on her street had its windows smashed.

"When we came down here, only one window was smashed. The cops told us to go back inside, and (revelers) smashed the other one," Rodriguez said.

Delmi Ramos tried to salvage what she could from her car, which was filled with shards of broken glass.

"It's these young people who don't know how to behave," she said. "They cause damage to people, to the community, because they don't know how to celebrate in a healthy way."

Los Angeles firefighters responded to 37 incidents within a half-mile of the arena in three hours, spokesman Brian Humphrey said. There were 15 rubbish fires, three vehicle fires, one vegetation fire and 18 medical aid requests.

Eight people were transported to hospitals. Humphrey didn't know the nature or extent of the injuries, but said some were serious.

One police officer suffered a broken nose after someone threw an object at him, Police Chief Charlie Beck said.

Police were bracing for another crowd-control challenge Monday, when the Lakers will hold a victory parade from Staples Center to the edge of the University of Southern California campus. A team statement estimated 500,000 to two million people might line the route.

The event appeared to be significantly downsized from past years, when championships were celebrated by kickoff rallies at City Hall, parades through downtown and huge rallies at Staples Center.

Last year's parade was heavily criticized for its costs to the financially strapped city. It skipped the downtown core and instead began at Staples Center and ended at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where 95,000 people jammed the stands for a rally.

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