Several thousand happy Los Angeles Lakers fans streamed into downtown Los Angles outside Staples Center Sunday night to celebrate the team’s 17th NBA championship.

The scene outside Staples Center, which was monitored by Los Angeles police in tactical gear, was mostly peaceful for the first half hour or so, but ended with several businesses damaged and vandalized.

The LAPD arrested nearly 80 people for crimes including vandalism, assault on an officer and failure to disperse.

Video posted on Twitter showed Los Angeles police officers firing non-lethal projectiles, and people in the crowd trying to damage police vehicles by kicking and throwing objects at them.

Two people were injured by the projectiles, police said. They were hospitalized, but details about their conditions were not immediately available. 

“A crowd of more than 1,000 revelers descended into the area around Staples Center after the game,” according to a LAPD statement. “Unruly individuals mixed within the crowd began throwing glass bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers.  That is when an unlawful assembly was declared, and only a limited number of people complied and began to disperse.  A larger portion of the group broke off and began vandalizing businesses while continuing to engage in violent behavior, some aimed at responding officers.”

Before the scene began to turn ugly, people were seen dancing on Chick Hearn Court and Figueroa Street and setting off firecrackers. Drivers were also seen doing donuts on the streets.

LAPD said early Monday morning that several businesses were damaged, vandalized and broken into including a Starbucks on 9th and Flower, a CVS store on 8th and Olive, and a liquor store on 14th and Grand.

Eight police officers were injured, police said. 

More than 30 buildings were damaged, as was the Metro bus.

A photo posted on Twitter shows several people standing atop an orange MTA bus spray-painted with graffiti.

As of 8:30 p.m., it appeared the scene had grown more peaceful, according to media reports from the scene.

At the request of the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert and blocked the northbound Pico Boulevard and Ninth Street off-ramps from the 110 Freeway, as well as the Pico Boulevard off-ramp from the eastbound 10 Freeway. Those ramps were reopened at 1:08 a.m., according to CHP Officer Patrick Kimball.

As of 9:45 p.m., police began aggressively acting to disperse the crowd from around Staples Center.

LAPD was on citywide tactical alert as a result of crowds celebrating the Lakers championship in downtown Los Angeles, says Officer Mike Lopez in LAPD Media Relations.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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