A Los Angeles man and nine teenagers who allegedly committed criminal acts during a series of otherwise peaceful protests last week have been charged, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The group was among those arrested during a series of demonstrations against the George Zimmerman acquittal in the slaying of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, and a subsequent robbery spree along Hollywood Boulevard.
Shareef Abdullah, 28, was charged with attempted grand theft, robbery and making criminal threats after he allegedly accosted two news crews covering the July 13 protests in Leimert Park, the L.A. County district attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors allege that Abdullah first tried to steal a $7,000 camera from a Telemundo crew before he was chased. He later returned and managed to run off with the camera but was chased down by a cameraman who got the equipment back.
Later that night, prosecutors said Abdullah approached another crew from KCBS-TV Channel 2 and allegedly threatened to shoot a cameraman if he didn’t hand over the camera. Abdullah allegedly then took off with the equipment.
Abdullah was arrested July 16 and pleaded not guilty to charges two days later, prosecutors said. He is due back in court at the end of the month. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Los Angeles police previously told The Times the camera was found and returned to the station.
In addition to Abdullah, prosecutors said nine teenagers were charged in connection with a string of robberies and other crimes that occurred during a July 16 “flash mob” along Hollywood Boulevard.
Los Angles Police Department officials said the crime outbreak was organized on social media; authorities said they saw several messages on Twitter and Facebook urging people to gather.
“Take the riot to Hollywood,” one expletive-laden message on Twitter said. “Hollywood. 7:30.”
A group of 40 to 50 people, mostly teenagers, heeded the calls and went on what police described as a rolling crime wave.
LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said it appeared that the group thought Hollywood would be an easy target because police were focused on patrolling the Crenshaw district for another round of Zimmerman demonstrations.
Prosecutors said the teens -- three 16-year-old girls, two 16-year-old boys and four 15-year-old boys -- were charged with robbery after they allegedly took cellphones, wallets and a skateboard from pedestrians.
Each of the unnamed juveniles pleaded not guilty Friday, prosecutors said. Four were released to their parents, and five were still being detained Tuesday. All are due back in court in August.