Los Angeles police arrested 14 people overnight for failing to disperse after hundreds of protesters splintered off a peaceful demonstration in the Crenshaw district and began stomping cars and breaking windows.
“It started off as a peaceful protest at Leimert Park,” said LAPD Officer Bruce Borihanh. “Unfortunately, a small group started disrupting it. It just got out of hand.”
About 350 Los Angeles Police Department officers swarmed the Crenshaw district after groups of youths broke away from the demonstration protesting the George Zimmerman murder trial verdict.
The group roamed Crenshaw Boulevard and neighboring streets breaking windows, setting fires and attacking several people. Among those attacked were a television reporter and his cameraman, according to law enforcement authorities.
Reporter Dave Bryan and his cameraman, both of whom work for KCBS Channel 2 and KCAL Channel 9, were attacked and one of them was taken to a hospital with a possible concussion, Lt. Andy Neiman told The Times.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck put the public on notice that officers would be taking a more aggressive posture toward protesters beginning Tuesday. "This will not be allowed to continue,” he said.
Police estimated that about 150 people took part in the violence after the peaceful vigil at Leimert Park following a Florida jury’s acquittal Saturday of Zimmerman, 29, on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.
Protesters stormed a Wal-Mart at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, pushing their way through as guards scrambled to close security gates. A short while later, LAPD officers wearing helmets and carrying batons swarmed the store as others marched through the parking lot.
Young vandals who entered the Wal-Mart stormed in, threw merchandise on the ground and yelled, shoppers told a Times reporter. Some tried to break open the jewelry glass displays.
At a late-night news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti blamed the violence on a "a small group [that] has taken advantage of this situation.”
He said that protesters have the right to voice their disagreement with the verdict, “but people also deserve to be safe on the streets and in their cars.”
In Oakland, hundreds of protesters stormed Interstate 880 near downtown Monday evening and blocked traffic in the southbound and northbound lanes. The protesters were cleared from the freeway and made their way downtown, authorities said.
By late Monday night, multiple arrests had been made in the downtown area as officers from neighboring jurisdictions responded to the chaos, the Oakland Police Department said.