Los Angeles, CA – Eight police officers were injured and 76 people were arrested when thousands crowded Figueroa Street to celebrate the Los Angeles Lakers winning the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship on Sunday night.
The Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Oct. 11, KTTV reported.
Thousands of fans took to the streets despite warnings from public officials about the health threats and dangers of mass gatherings.
“As we cheer our @Lakers’ 17th championship, please remember it’s still not safe to gather in groups,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted. “Let’s honor our city’s triumph by protecting others and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Please celebrate safely at home. Do not gather at Staples Center. Thank you!”
But his plea was ignored by thousands of Lakers fans and it wasn’t long before fans outside the Staples Center started demonstrating what the Los Angeles Police Department called “confrontational, violent & destructive behavior” in the street and officers began making arrests.
Last night’s largely peaceful celebration in Downtown LA of the Lakers championship turned into confrontational, violent & destructive behavior.
30+ buildings damaged
8 officers injured
2 injured by less lethal munitions fired by our officers pic.twitter.com/BZ2nYWHz3c
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) October 12, 2020
Videos of the scene showed that when officers first tried to take control of the incident, rioters pushed back at them, chasing at least one police car as it reversed away from violent fans who were kicking it and throwing things at its windows.
LAKERS FANS RIOT AFTER CHAMPIONSHIP WIN:
– 76 Arrested
– 8 Officers Injured
– 30+ businesses damaged or destroyed
– MTA bus set ablaze
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) October 12, 2020
#BREAKING: Thousands of #Lakers fans have converged on Staples Center. Mostly peaceful, except for a small group throwing rocks and bottles at LAPD. Officers now in riot gear as the celebration continues. @abc7 #air7hd #abc7eyewitness #lakersnation #losangeles pic.twitter.com/WlqXyboAlx
— Chris Cristi (@abc7chriscristi) October 12, 2020
The celebration turned violent and became a riot that damaged at least 30 nearby buildings, KTTV reported.
Storefronts were smashed and covered in graffiti.
One video showed a mob attacking a Metro bus that was caught in the spontaneous celebration-turned-riot.
The terrified driver repeatedly honked the horn as Lakers fans smashed the windows, spray-painted graffiti all over the exterior and interior, and eventually set it on fire before the driver fled.
LA: Laker fans riot last night after the Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals
— Drew Hernandez (@livesmattershow) October 12, 2020
Another video showed rioters looting a Starbucks in downtown Los Angeles.
Starbucks looted last night and vandalized during the riots related to the Lakers championship celebration in Downtown Los Angeles. Reports state that at least 5 alleged looters were arrested at this store. pic.twitter.com/Q5KcXgvmfY
— Rise Images (@rise_images) October 12, 2020
In addition to property damage, numerous fights broke out between fans in the streets.
One video showed a man receiving a beat down from a group wearing Lakers jerseys that included bashing him over the head with a metal scooter.
— Brian Hund 🎙 (@brianhund) October 12, 2020
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said 76 people were arrested during the chaos on charges that included vandalism, assault on a police officer, and failure to disperse.
The department said that eight officers had to receive medical treatment from injuries sustained during the riot.
Once again after the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA finals, riots fill the streets outside the Staples Center. … The police soon responded with riot gear and shots of tear gas which were thrown into the mass of hysterical … #NBA pic.twitter.com/MJPb6QXrGq
— H24 (@H24News_) October 12, 2020
“They call it a celebration but I’m wondering what could’ve happened if the Lakers had lost? This is tragic. The mayhem and destruction … it’s just sad,” a local resident told KTTV.
The TV ratings for the Lakers’ championship victory were down 57 percent from the 2019 championship game between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors, according to TheWrap.
Sunday’s Game 6 was broadcast on ABC and had only 5.6 million viewers, but competed with National Football League games because of the NBA’s schedule changes and delays.
The first four games of the NBA Finals were the least-watched of that kind of game in recorded history, the New York Post reported.