- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Members of a crowd celebrating the Lakers’ NBA championship damaged at least one police cruiser and were setting bonfires in the street Sunday night, according to police.

LAPD officers declared the increasingly rowdy crowd gathered near the Staples Center an unlawful assembly.

Officer Karen Rayner said one or two police cruisers were damaged and reinforcement officers were called in from throughout the city to help disperse the crowd.

Aerial video footage shown on KCAL-TV showed people jumping on a police car, rocking vehicles attempting to pass through the crowd and throwing flares set up by police. No injuries were reported.

No injuries had been reported.

The Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game 5 of the NBA finals Sunday night to win their 15th championship.

Television reports also showed small crowds of people parading through the streets of East Los Angeles, where excitement over the Lakers’ Game 4 win Thursday night spilled into the streets, with rowdy fans swarming vehicles trying to pass through the area.

In 2000, after the Lakers won their first NBA title in 12 years, fans rioted outside Staples Center, burning police cars and leaving more than 70 vehicles damaged, many at nearby auto dealerships. At least 11 people were arrested and a dozen were injured.

Sunday night’s crowd appeared to be the remaining members of a throng of hundreds of ecstatic fans who streamed onto the sidewalks from the bars and restaurants surrounding the Staples Center, where the Lakers play home games.

Before Sunday’s game, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said if the Lakers win they should have a victory parade in Los Angeles, despite the city’s budget woes.

Villaraigosa said he would work with the private sector to help fund the celebration, which was expected to occur as early as Wednesday.

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