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Police clear Venice Beach after 70 young men start brawling on boardwalk

LAPD issues a tactical alert for the area, but it is lifted a short time later. No injuries are reported or weapons confiscated, and only one person is arrested.

May 31, 2010|By John Hoeffel and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

A giant brawl involving as many as 70 young men broke out on the Venice Beach Boardwalk on Sunday evening, prompting the Los Angeles Police Department to briefly declare a citywide tactical alert.

Capt. Jon Peters, commanding officer of the LAPD's Pacific Division, said the fight erupted just before 8 p.m. on the boardwalk near 17th and Windward avenues. The fight moved north, breaking up and then starting again near that section of the beach.

Police officers, already heavily deployed to the area because of expected large crowds, flooded in on bikes, motorcycles and helicopters to break it up.

By 9 p.m. it was over, with no serious injuries reported and no weapons confiscated. About 20 people had been detained and one person was arrested, police said.

Hythum Kiswani, the owner of Santino's sandwich shop near Windward Avenue, saw the fight. "It was a bunch of kids," he said, guessing their ages at between 14 and 17 years old. "In a split second, it was mayhem."

Kiswani said that police arrived seconds later and that he counted 17 squad cars and eight motorcycle officers within minutes.

Peters said he did not know what had sparked the fight but police were investigating the incident as potentially gang-related.

The tactical alert, which means police officers must stay on duty and brace for action, was rescinded a short time later.

Police continued to roam the boardwalk, using loudspeakers to urge beachgoers off the sand. A second fight broke out after police tried to break up a drum circle.

Peters said it's been 10 to 12 years since a brawl forced police to clear the beach and go block by block to disperse the crowd. He added that the LAPD will be out in force Monday.

Peters said the reason there was only one arrest was simple: "When you have a big fight like that, and the police come, everybody runs off."

john.hoeffel@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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