LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – More than 75 people were arrested after celebrations over the Los Angeles Lakers' 17th title turned violent Sunday night in downtown L.A., with revelers vandalizing multiple businesses in the area.
Despite earnest requests from city leaders and police not to gather due to concerns over both public safety and the coronavirus, thousands of people descended on the streets around Staples Center to celebrate the Lakers win and the legacy of the late Kobe Bryant.
The celebration prompted Los Angeles police to go on a citywide tactical alert. The crowd got out of control as the night wore on, however, with people setting off fireworks in the street, spraying graffiti and blocking intersections. Some started throwing rocks and bottles, which forced LAPD to declare an unlawful assembly.
At one point, a fire was started inside a Metro bus. A Starbucks at the corner of Flower and West 9th streets was ransacked, police said. A nearby CVS Pharmacy at 8th Street and Grand Avenue was also looted, and an IHOP restaurant saw its windows broken.
In total, 76 people were arrested on charges including failure to disperse, vandalism and assault on a police officer, the LAPD reported Monday.
Three people were hospitalized after being struck by less-lethal rounds fired by officers.
Eight officers were also injured, police said. None of the injuries are believed to be serious.
More than 30 buildings were damaged.
"It was frightening, the noises just resonating from out here, coming into the building, were incredible -- it sounded like another protest to me -- and then someone reminded us that it was the celebration," nearby resident Harold McCarthy told CBSLA.
McCarthy disclosed that many businesses in the area have already been struggling in recent months due to the COVID-19 closures and the damage during the police brutality protests.
"This is like disaster on disaster on disaster," McCarthy said. "Because many of these shops have been closed for long periods of time because of COVID, many have been hit before because of protests."
"I think it's horrible, I don't believe this is a celebration," he added. "I think a celebration is something joyful and something you can be proud of. And I wouldn't be proud of this at all."
Though many people were happy to celebrate the Lakers' first championship in a decade, they said now was time for the city to clean up.
"In all sports, whenever there's a championship, unfortunately, they celebrate by destroying," L.A. resident Roland Luna said.
"It was super cool sight to see the city go up in fireworks, and it was a really cool experience," said Miguel Avila, who lives in downtown L.A. "This is Los Angeles. We pick up after ourselves, and we gotta do what we gotta do."
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