On the fourth night of protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder case, bands of teenagers descended on Hollywood Boulevard, grabbed items from stores, snatched iPhones from tourists and even punched victims, according to police and witnesses.
It wasn't clear if the packs of young people 20-or-more strong were related to the kind of Trayvon-related unrest that hit the Crenshaw District Monday night, but at least one shopkeeper believed it was:
“I think this was related to the George Zimmerman thing,” he said.
That son of a store owner, who, like other witnesses we talked to, did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said a group of of more than 30 came to the front of his T-shirt shop, grabbed all the merchandise they could get their hands on and ran off to hit other nearby shops.
Four mannequins were toppled at the shop and postcards also were taken, the son said.
When he gave chase and tried to grab some shirts back from a teenager, he was pummeled by that suspect, he said. “I tried to defend myself,” he shrugged.
The young people focused their actions around Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue and moved east from there, according to police and witnesses.
“They seemed organized,” the shopkeeper said.
There were reports of similar robberies as far southeast as Western Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, police said, but it wasn't clear if they were indeed connected.
A worker at the T-shirt store said at least one of the marauders was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. He added that many of the teens, mostly boys, had backpacks and skateboards.
A T-shirt shop down the street saw much the same — grabbing of goods and smashing of a shelf holding fake, souvenir Oscar statues, the owner there told us. A worker there also was attacked by teens, he said.
The owner of an eatery let us capture his security video of a group of teens as they ran by and knocked down a sign:
The rampage started at 9 p.m. and went to almost 10 Tuesday night, police told us. Shop owners and workers, however, said the cops were there fast and the crowd scattered just as fast.
Police detained 14 suspects, LAPD Commander Dennis Kato told us.
Capt. Cory Palka described the allegations involved in the rampage as robbery, theft and vandalism.
Stuff was taken by force, it seems, but no weapons besides fists and intimidation were used, according to witnesses.
Extra police assigned to the Crenshaw District for potential Trayvon Martin-related protests rushed to Hollywood and were joined by Sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol units.
[Update at 12:43 p.m.]: LAPD Officer Cleon Joseph says the final number of arrests was 12, 11 for suspicion of robbery and one for allegedly receiving stolen property.
Among the things taken during the spree, he said, was a tip jar.
In the meantime, new area Councilman Mitch O'Farrell joined LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and others this morning at a press conference “to denounce the crime spree that took place in Hollywood last night,” according to a statement from O'Farrell's office.