Unruly Mexico soccer fans have L.A. police on edge
Rowdy fans disrupting traffic and confronting police after Monday’s Mexico World Cup match victory have local law enforcement bracing for the team’s next game on Sunday.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it is already preparing for Mexico’s match against the Netherlands.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said deputies experienced in crowd control and mounted deputies will be on scene in possible hot spots, including areas in Southeast L.A. County.
“We want everyone to be safe and celebrate responsibly,” Nishida said. “Have fun with the World Cup games, but don’t do anything illegal.”
The Huntington Park Police Department said it would call on nearby cities such as Bell and Bell Gardens to assist if soccer fans turn rowdy.
Several people were arrested Monday night when scores of soccer fans celebrating Mexico’s World Cup win poured into the streets of several communities and harassed motorists, taunted police and, in one instance, threw a bottle at a police horse.
Huntington Park police said they were ready for Monday night’s brief confrontation with fans and that there’s a history of rowdy celebrations after Mexico wins in the World Cup.
Police had shut down major streets and set up barricades Monday in preparation and, in the end, it proved necessary. Hundreds of people filled the streets near Laurel Canyon and Van Nuys boulevards, waving flags while some in the crowd set off fireworks to celebrate Mexico’s 3-1 win over Croatia.
The win allows Mexico to advance to the round of 16 teams in the international soccer championship in Brazil.
Police estimated the crowds at between 150 and 200 people. Huntington Park police said one woman was arrested on suspicion of assault after she allegedly threw a bottle at a police horse.
“The horse is fine,” said Huntington Park police Sgt. Conrad Chacon.
A sergeant at the Sheriff’s Department station in Lynwood said deputies arrested a “handful” of people in connection with the celebrations Monday night but had no further details.
Los Angeles police detained seven people, but they were not arrested, officials said.
The LAPD initially said the crowds were celebratory but peaceful as people began to gather shortly before 7 p.m. But within hours, the California Highway Patrol was forced to issue a SigAlert for the eastbound 118 Freeway at the Laurel Canyon offramp as police tried to control the crowds.
The LAPD also issued a tactical alert, which requires officers citywide to remain on duty. Police officials declared an unlawful assembly and ordered crowds to disperse at Laurel Canyon and Van Nuys boulevards.
By 11:30 p.m., the LAPD’s Foothill Division declared a “peaceful end” to the surging crowds. No injuries were reported.
The neighborhood has been home to some violence after matches before. When the Mexican team bested France in the 2010 tournament, police were sent to disperse crowds that were hurling rocks at cars and drinking in public.
A curfew was imposed over the neighborhood in 1994, when police recorded 17 arrests, including at least one for assault with a deadly weapon, after the team advanced out of the group stage.
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