It was a spontaneous celebration Sunday night as a crowd of thousands gathered outside Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles after the Lakers won their 17th NBA championship. Fans waived flags as fireworks erupted overhead, and traffic stopped as fans filled the streets around the Lakers’ home court.
What started as a peaceful celebration eventually got out of control and led to violence and damage to businesses, with police having to step in.
Los Angeles police arrested 76 people and said more than 30 businesses were damaged — some looted — during the celebration that started after the Lakers secured the title. According to the Associated Press, the arrests were for failure to disperse, vandalism, and assault on a police officer (eight officers were injured trying to break up the crowds).
There will not be an official Lakers parade or public celebration this year. With past Lakers titles, those events have drawn hundreds of thousands of people close together.
The Lakers celebration — and a march to support Armenia that saw 100,000 gather in another area of Los Angeles earlier in the day — led to warnings from Los Angeles County health officials about the possible spread of the coronavirus.
“If you were in a crowd with non-household members, especially if people weren’t wearing face coverings and were shouting, chanting, and/or singing, you may have been exposed to COVID-19,” said the statement, which urged people who were at the events to quarantine for two weeks and get tested.