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LAPD deploys officers to Westside for possible Zimmerman protests

Andy Smith
Los Angeles Police Commander Officer Andy Smith speaks during a news conference concerning Tuesday’s disturbance in Hollywood
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Los Angeles police officials said Thursday afternoon that additional patrol units would be deployed to the Westside to brace for possible protests against the George Zimmerman trial verdict.

The pre-deployment will allow officers to respond to any problems sparked by demonstrations that sprout up in the area, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Law enforcement authorities said earlier Thursday that protesters might gather in Westwood. Police were bracing for possible “flash mobs” similar to those that went on a crime spree Tuesday in Hollywood, said LAPD Capt. Evangelyn Nathan of the department’s West Division.

Roving bands of youths battered and robbed people on Hollywood Boulevard. The youths stole cellphones, jewelry, purses and wallets, the LAPD officials have said. The lawlessness may have been fueled by a tweet that said “Take the riot to Hollywood,” police said.

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Officer Gregory Baek, an LAPD spokesman, said Thursday afternoon that patrol units would not be confined to one specific area but would be deployed across the Westside.

PHOTOS: Zimmerman trial verdict protests

“Just in case something might happen, they can respond more quickly,” Baek told The Times.

On Wednesday evening, LAPD shifted dozens of additional officers to areas near the Beverly Center in anticipation of a possible demonstration against Zimmerman, who was acquitted of second-degree murder Saturday by a Florida jury in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin

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There were no demonstrations at the Beverly Center, but protesters gathered Wednesday evening for a peaceful rallies and marches in Beverly Hills and Pasadena.

In Victorville, 17 people were arrested Wednesday after marchers descended on the Mall of Victor Valley and tried to force their way in. They were locked out be security guards and were arrested after deputies ordered the group to disperse. Most of the arrests were made for failing to disperse, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

On Monday, some youths in a crowd in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw district assaulted bystanders, stomped on vehicles, sparked fires and stormed into a Wal-Mart store, where they smashed display cases and tried to steal jewelry, according to witnesses and police. At least 14 people were arrested in connection with Monday’s incidents.

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Twitter: @LAJourno

robert.lopez@latimes.com

 

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