Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Observations on the recent fan riots in LA

“True” L.A. Lakers fans celebrated their NBA championship victory on Sunday night (June 14) by rioting outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Eyewitness reports said that the police officers at the scene were being belted with rocks and bottles. There were also reports of fans starting fires, including a report that at least one police vehicle was set on fire. Live footage at 9:15pm local time from a local television station clearly showed rioters attacking signs and shop fronts. Police control of the area appeared to be limited, with vehicle traffic having to turn away as they approached the rioters. The following updates appeared on a news internet site for the next two hours (see my comments in parenthesis):

9:30pm PDT Update: Twitter users near the scene are warning people to stay away from the Staples Center Riot area and surrounding streets, describing the scene as chaos. More reports of fires being lit. (If you’re white, male, and gainfully employed aka “the man” you better get the fuck out of there.)

9:33pm PDT: Just grabbed a shot from a live video feed showing rioters attacking a taxi. Immediately after the shot was taken, other vehicles were surrounded and attacked. (There were probably Celtics fans in those cars in which case they totally had it coming.)

9:38pm PDT: Strong police presence now outside the center, but rioters are in other streets. More passing cars being attacked. (We would have dispatched more police officers to the surrounding areas but we couldn’t afford it cuz Arnold spent all our money on booze and hookers.)

9:40pm PDT: Unconfirmed report that the Staples Center is on fire. There were fire brigade vehicles earlier, perhaps confirming the report. (Scratch that, Staples Center isn’t on fire, it’s the Forum that’s on fire – and who really cares? That place is a festering pit.)

9:42pm PDT: Reports that police have declared the riot an “unlawful gathering.” TV footage shows rioters dispersing. Some attacks now happening west of the Harbor (110) Freeway. (Unlawful gathering? Come on coppers – what’s wrong with a few friends getting together to celebrate their team’s championship? Do you think it’s easy to win an NBA championship?)

9:47pm PDT: Fires still being lit. (Duh, what’s a riot without fires?)

9:50pm PDT: Reports of two arrests, police claim to have the area under control. Live helicopter footage still shows people in the area though. (It’s cool – they got the two dudes they really wanted – everyone else can proceed rioting.)

9:55pm PDT: Shots from a live feed show that the situation is definitely not under control. (Ya think?)

10pm PDT: The “under control” crowd is currently trashing a bus under the 110. (That bus probably gave a ride to a Celtics fan at some point. What choice did those fans have?)

10:05pm PDT: Rioters have moved past the 110 and are attacking more vehicles, including a TV van. (What better way to get on TV than to attack a TV van? Those rioters are really smart.)

10:35pm PDT: Less rioters on the ground, but attacks continuing, including a Robeks Juice outlet. (Rioting makes you thirsty, hello.)

10:40pm PDT: AP, some local outlets now calling it a riot (many local sites called this “celebrating.”) We know that two police vehicles have been damaged, no reports of injuries yet. (What’s the difference between a riot and a celebration? True fans riot, pussies celebrate.)

10:45pm PDT: Live video is following a number of people who don’t seem to be doing much. (Wow, this was a great update – umm, thanks for nothing.)

10:50pm PDT: Still a few scattered groups, although they seem to be more behaved…least they aren’t stopping traffic. (All this rioting sure has made me tired – time to go home and beat my wife.)

11:02 pm PDT: Riot police spotted, and a mass of police cars in the area….. now they’re charging down the street, not sure at what though. (Phew – the rioters are gone – time to walk down the street in our riot gear looking tough so people think we know what we’re doing.)

11:10pm PDT: A shot from Twitter shows a shoe store completely trashed by the rioters. (How’s a brother supposed to represent when Kobe high-tops cost like $150 bucks, man? Besides, it’s not really stealing if you can’t afford it – you know the whole Robin Hood thing.)

11:25pm PDT: Lost our live video feeds. Twitter updates from the area have dropped off. It may not be completely over, but we’re probably going to call it a night for updates. (Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright… sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.)

Following the riots I spent some time surfing around the net reading people’s reactions and I came across the following gem from “Joe” who was responding to a San Antonio Spurs fan who claimed that Lakers fans have no class:

San Antonio is a very different environment from LA i know because I've lived in both. Texas is more family oriented but in LA you have to deal with ridiculous laws, crooked cops, never ending taxes, etc etc...and people are tired of it and the Lakers winning is the only way to get everyone together show that we the people have the power and are not afraid of our government and wont let them control us and what we want to do. Your lucky you have it easy in Texas the homes are cheaper and nicer. You don't have to deal with ridiculous taxes. If your born out here your almost guaranteed a hard life. and Lakers are the best so stop all your hating just because your team hasnt won so many championships

Wow, Joe, I’m speechless. First off you’re clearly a subject matter expert since you’ve lived in both LA and San Antonio, so thanks for providing that qualification. Secondly you say that LA is full of “ridiculous laws, crooked cops, and never ending taxes, etc. etc.” If you think that burning other people’s cars, destroying city buses, and looting retail stores should be legal then you’re absolutely right – LA is full of ridiculous laws. What the hell are those idiotic law makers thinking? With regard to the crooked cops, you might actually have a point there, so I’ll leave that one alone. As for the never ending taxes, let’s think about that one for a minute. Based on your comments above (and I don’t mean to generalize here) I’m guessing that at the very most you make about $20,000 a year, am I right? This would mean that your CA tax rate is 4% and your total state taxes are $800 a year. Dude – you could barely take your family to a single Lakers game for $800. Pull your head out of your ass, Joe. The never ending taxes argument only applies to people who actually make a lot of money, which is clearly not you. You go on to say that “the Lakers winning is the only way to get everyone together to show that we the people have the power and are not afraid of our government and won’t let them control us”. Whoa, slow down chief. What about when Marquette Frye was arrested for drunk driving in 1965, or when the LAPD went piñata on Rodney King in 1992? There were some pretty memorable riots that ensued following those events if I remember correctly. The truth is, Joe, people like you are just looking for a reason to riot. You’re unhappy with your life, you’re too lazy to do anything about it, and it’s just easier to play the role of the victim. And don’t give me the whole disaffected youth who feels left out of the process excuse. Take a look in the White House, Joe. That shit doesn’t fly anymore. You go on to prove my point completely when you say “if you’re born here you’re almost guaranteed a hard life” (I fixed up your grammar a bit to make it comprehensible for us educated folks). Yeah Joe, like there’s no opportunity for advancement in Los Angeles, CA, one of the world's epicenters for business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, technology, and education, and one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. Are you fuckin serious, Joe?

I don’t mean to single Joe out but people like Joe represent exactly what’s wrong with America today. Stop blaming the government for your problems, people. They’re not out to get you and they’re not trying to keep you down. But they’re also not going to hand you a big bag full of knowledge, wealth, and happiness. Being successful in life is pretty simple as I see it. Set goals for yourself, work towards achieving those goals like your life depends on it, and chances are you’ll be happy with the outcome. If you fail, and the reality is some people (Joe included) will, go complain to Charles Darwin.

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