Los Angeles Police Department officers arrested dozens of people after twice declaring an unlawful assembly Tuesday and issuing dispersal orders for “unruly” crowds near Staples Center.
More than 40 people who were blocking train tracks were detained, LAPD Officer Mike Lopez said, adding that they were all arrested on suspicion of failure to disperse.
Before that, about 30 people were detained, cited then released for blocking an intersection, Lopez said.
The unlawful assembly was declared because it was a “large and unruly group,” with people throwing rocks and blocking streets, according to LAPD Officer Tony Im.
The department announced dispersal orders around 8 p.m., telling everyone to leave the area of Pico Boulevard and Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles. At around 9:37 p.m., another unlawful assembly was declared for people in the area of 18th and Figueroa streets.
Around that time, six people were detained because “officers believed they were about to commit a crime,” but then they were let go, Im said. No details were available on what those detained had been suspected of.
Aerial video from Sky showed a large police response near Staples Center, with police cruisers swarming the streets and officers in helmets and holding batons facing the crowd.
Unnamed sources told the Los Angeles Times that the crackdown was part of a new approach ordered by LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who told commanders to act swiftly to declare gatherings unlawful and not wait for things to escalate.
A photo shared by the department showed several people lined up with their wrists bound in downtown L.A.
It’s unclear how many people were gathered. Around 11 p.m., police said there were different groups moving around the downtown area.
LAPD had earlier issued a citywide tactical alert to ensure “sufficient resources to address any incidents that may arise as a result of Election Day activities, but is not a result of any specific incident,” the department said around 3 p.m. in a tweet.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that adequate resources are available to ensure all Angelenos are able to safely vote without interference,” LAPD said.
Staples Center was one of the sites serving as vote centers from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.