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Party for Gang Unity Turns Into a Melee : Imperial Courts: One man is shot by a party-goer, police say. Five are arrested as officers break up festivities.

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Police dispersed a large gathering of residents and gang members in the Imperial Courts housing project in South Los Angeles after a Saturday morning party deteriorated into brawls, leaving one person wounded by gunfire. Five people were arrested.

It was the third consecutive weekend that police moved in to break up unity parties among large numbers of rival Crips and Bloods gang factions. Last weekend, 30 officers suffered minor injuries as they tried to end a midnight meeting of about 300 people at the Jordan Downs project.

Although at least two officers were struck with beer bottles during the Saturday morning melee at Imperial Courts, none was injured, said Sgt. Ethelmae Cookson of the Southeast Division.

Southeast officers said the first reports of trouble came about 1 a.m. Saturday as party-goers spilled out from a playground area near 115th Street and Croesus Avenue. “A couple of women got involved in a fight,” Cookson said. “Someone called police and pretty soon, fights were breaking out all over.”

Residents at Imperial Courts said police had no reason to intrude.

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“They didn’t help Rodney King. How come they come when we’re here?” asked Sarina Page, 18, who said she watched as officers marched past her Imperial Courts residence early Saturday.

She said that some party-goers cursed at police, which prompted officers to respond by moving in to break up the gathering.

George Bogard, 33, said everyone was just “kickin’ ” and “staying out of trouble.” But for officers, he said, “that’s too much like a riot. They don’t want to see Crips and Bloods together. . . . They’re afraid.”

About 150 people were involved in the fracas, Cookson said. Five party-goers were arrested and taken to Southeast Station and booked on suspicion of interfering with police officers and other misdemeanors.

One party-goer--believed to be a gang member--was shot in the leg by a rival gang member, the officer said. He was taken to Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center for treatment.


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