Looting in L.A., Fireworks Thrown at Police, after Lakers Win NBA Title

Violence erupted after crowds descended on downtown Los Angeles to celebrate after the LA Lakers won the NBA championship on Sunday night.

In defiance of COVID-19 guidelines, masses of jubilant fans dressed in Lakers colors packed the streets around the Staples Center after the team defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 to secure their first NBA title in a decade.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had warned people not to gather in celebration due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"As we cheer our @Lakers' 17th championship, please remember it's still not safe to gather in groups. Let's honor our city's triumph by protecting others and making sure we don't spread the virus," Garcetti wrote on Twitter. "Please celebrate safely at home. Do not gather at Staples Center. Thank you!"

Nevertheless, outdoor celebrations continued late into Sunday night, with videos showing people dancing, fireworks being set off and vehicles doing donuts.

Crowds of people chanted "Kobe! Kobe!" in tribute to the Lakers legend who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year as large numbers of police blocked streets in the area, according to videos on social media.

Videos on social media showed officers firing less-lethal projectiles to disperse the crowd, with bottles and fireworks thrown in response.

Later in the night, video showed a Starbucks coffee shop was broken into and people were seen walking out with merchandise.

Officer Drake Madison, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), told Newsweek that police made 67 arrests after a dispersal order was given. Madison said 61 people were arrested for failing to disperse, five for looting and one for vandalism.

One officer received a hand injury from a bottle, Madison said. He did not answer questions about munitions fired by officers.

"People are looting the Starbucks," Samuel Braslow, a reporter with The Beverly Hills Courier, wrote alongside the clip.

Emily Holshouser shared pictures on Twitter showing the front of the store covered in graffiti and the interior ransacked.

In the early hours of Sunday, Braslow tweeted that a shooting had taken place, with one victim, citing an officer at the scene. He said a vandalized bus had also been on fire briefly.

Earlier in the evening, Braslow's videos showed people celebrating by setting off fireworks in front of the Staples Center. "Behind police lines in front of Staples Center, where a large crowd in purple and gold chants "Kobe" while shooting off fireworks," he wrote alongside one clip.

A short time later, police had started firing less-lethal munitions at a crowd of people. Police were "pushing forward toward stragglers, firing less lethals as they move," Braslow added. "One glass bottle lands far from police."

Another video showed a firework thrown into an area cleared by police that then went off.

Braslow tweeted that the crowd of supporters moved to near the intersection of Figueroa Street and Olympic Boulevard, where the celebrations continued "for a few minutes" until police advanced and again fired less-lethal rounds.

Moments later, Braslow tweeted that an officer had aimed a projectile directly at him and knocked his phone out of his hand.

"Police aimed at me. Less lethal round literally hits my phone out of my hands (credit to Apple, it kept recording)," he wrote alongside a video of the moment.

This article has been updated with comments from the LAPD.

LAPD
Law enforcement officers prepare to disperse a crowd of Lakers fans near the Staples Center on October 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Looting in L.A., Fireworks Thrown at Police, after Lakers Win NBA Title | U.S.