Riot on Sunset Strip: Concert Goers Attacked with Rubber Bullets and Mace

Firing bean bags and rubber bullets while spraying mace into a crowd of concert goers, Los Angeles Sheriff Department deputies closed down Sunset Boulevard from Doheny Avenue to San Vincente Boulevard for two hours last night. Backed up by members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s riot squad and the Beverly Hills Police Department, LASD arrived as patrons exited a punk rock nostalgia show featuring Ill Repute, TSOL and Youth Brigade at the Key Club on Sunset Blvd.

The riot began around 10:30 p.m. Thurssday night, and closed down Sunset Blvd. — the scene of much earlier clashes between law enforcement and non-mainstream types, like 1966′s hippie riots immortalized in the film Riot on the Sunset Strip and the punk rock riot when Black Flag played the Whiskey in August of 1982. Their second show for that hot August night was canceled and the Whiskey’s then-manager told the Los Angeles Times that

it wasn’t really a riot until the police showed up.

Kinda’ like last night.

By 11:00 p.m., patrons of other clubs were told to go to their cars or stay inside. Here’s an eyewitness account which differs substantially from that given by law enforcement.

According to man-about-town and punk rocker Andre Boutilier, before he and his friend entered the club to see the second billed act TSOL, there was scuffle at the club’s entrance. The guy causing the problem was joined by a couple of buddies; more bouncers joined in the melee. When Boutilier and his companion entered the club,

We noticed there were no bouncers that we could see, and so we figured they were outside dealing with the situation. After TSOL, we went backstage to chat with the guys. A club staffer came back and said Youth Brigade would not be going on, and told them to pack it up and leave. No announcement had yet been made in main part of [the 450-person capacity club]. We helped the bands get their stuff together and walked out with them chatting on the way to their cars. We saw about 50 or 60 kids out front and overheard them being told that they couldn’t go in, despite having tickets. [La Figa: Well, yeah, the show was over]. That’s when the sheriffs started arriving, just a few cars at first, some of which set up a barricade to the west, towards Beverly Hills. Even before fans left the club, the sheriffs were  announcing that this was an illegal assembly and anyone remaining in the area would be arrested.

Boutilier and his friend had already left the venue and ducked into Shamrock Studio Tattoo. They witnessed the sheriff department’s riot squad take their position. About ten minuted after they were in place, fans were let out of club. It appeared to Boutilier that  in a move coordinated between the club and LASD, patrons were being keep inside until the riot police were in place.

As patrons were exiting, the sheriffs made another announcement that everyone should walk east, while repeating that this was an illegal assembly.

Patrons tried to move eastward, but it was very slow going as 450 people squeezed into the sidewalk, some looking for their friends, others confused. They didn’t move fast enough for the sheriff’s riot squad, which started firing rubber bullets with backup by the LAPD and Beverly Hills Police Department. Both KTLA and FOX News LA covered the scene. Fox’s on-air coverage varies from Boutilier’s and KTLA’s reports; FOX’s spin on the incident suggests the fans started the riot by throwing rocks and bottles, in opposition to the other stories.

Boutilier who I spoke to at 4:00 a.m. before any news aired told me,

stupid kids threw rocks and bottles after the rubber bullets were fired.

(in the video the narrator says “automatic guns; he meant gunfire)

Boutilier sums it up on his FB page:

Police overreact to minor conflict outside club. Shutdown the show before YB can take the stage. Then fire rubber bullets into crowd, unload industrial fire extinguisher filled with mace. Beat up the wrong kids. In their defense some idiot kids throw bottles at the cops that broke at their feet which was stupid of them.

The versions aired by KTLA — yes I’ve watched the local news from 4:30 a.m. on — showed police arriving, firing of rubber bullets, macing the crowd, and then the fans throwing rocks and bottles.

Even with editing footage from the two-hour long riot, the footage on KTLA broadcast supports Boutilier’s version, showing a sheriff’s deputy holding a large canister of mace and spraying several nonviolent patrons at close range as they walked away form the club.

What KTLA didn’t show (perhaps because of fallout from Rodney King video and the MacArthur Park May Day riot?) but Boutilier saw:

The deputy, after he emptied the canister, began hitting  kids with the metal container and several other officers had to pull him off.

The official law enforces chronology is different from that of Boutilier and KTLA. LAPD’s Sgt. S. Ruda told the LA Weekly:

Bouncers at the club got into it with fans outside the club, and responding deputies were met with rocks and bottles…Deputies responded and some patrons started forming a crowd..More deputies responded and they started taking bottles and rocks.

On their website KTLA reports

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies arrived in riot gear and used rubber bullets and mace to try and tame the hostile crowd. The rowdy group threw rocks and bottles at deputies.

There have have been three reports televised by KTLA so far, each one progressively making fans look worse, but still showing the sheriff’s firing before fans react violently; one kids is shown kicking a street sign, and people are indeed throwing rocks — totally stupid. Don’t you ever wonder where these urban rocks come from? I have walked up and down Sunset plenty of times and never seen a rock. Bottles, yeah, but not a lot of them, and trash cans aren’t that easy to dig into in the hope of finding a bottle. The second KTLA report had a voice over from the Sheriffs’ Dept. explaining that the sheriffs responded to a 911 call from the Key Club and showed up; once patrons exited the club, they started throwing things at the sheriffs.

[all photos, video Andre Boutilier, used by permission]

19 Responses to "Riot on Sunset Strip: Concert Goers Attacked with Rubber Bullets and Mace"
SirLurksAlot | Friday January 7, 2011 04:32 pm 1

Whoa – looks like Planet Utah. The militarization of our police is nearly complete. once they get all the drones and heat rays and other Iraq War tested techno, the police state will be fully militarized.

OldFatGuy | Friday January 7, 2011 04:44 pm 2

This is one of those things that’s hard to judge from the outside. But if that police dood really did start to beat kids with the empty container after spraying mace on them, then of the parts of this story IMO that’s the one that needs the most attention.

Phoenix Woman | Friday January 7, 2011 04:49 pm 3

Did the cops put black electrical tape over their badge numbers? That’s usually the sign that they’re about to go thumping en masse.

solerso | Friday January 7, 2011 04:50 pm 4

Police overreact to minor conflict outside club. Shutdown the show before YB can take the stage. Then fire rubber bullets into crowd, unload industrial fire extinguisher filled with mace. Beat up the wrong kids. In their defense some idiot kids throw bottles at the cops that broke at their feet which was stupid of them.

that was stupid of them. they should have hit the cops with the rocks and bottles

Margaret | Friday January 7, 2011 04:53 pm 5

This is going to keep happening as long as we keep recruiting police officers from ex military people. These men and women come out of an occupation where everybody is an enemy to the streets of the United States and surprise! They still thin everybody is an enemy.

Margaret | Friday January 7, 2011 04:54 pm 6

Cope are supposed to be peace officers, while soldiers are trained to shoot first if in doubt. Who could have ever thought that would work out well?

nahant | Friday January 7, 2011 04:58 pm 7
In response to Margaret @ 5

Very true Peg. They are conditioned that way from multiple combat deployments where “outside the wire” everyone is suspect! Besides thats all grunt know….

CTuttle | Friday January 7, 2011 05:03 pm 8

About the only difference between that travesty in L.A. and Bil’in is that there’s more rocks lying around and fewer bottles… *gah*

Lisa Derrick | Friday January 7, 2011 05:06 pm 9

My eyewitness was across the street so he couldnt see if the badge numbers were covered. KTLA’s footage shows the mace being sprayed very close to the crowd, but not the beating. The KTLA news story started very broad and unbiased; by 9am news narration went from “police fired rubber bullets and sprayed mace before rocks and bottles were thrown” to “concert goers being out of control and throwing rocks.” However the video chronology reflected version #1 each broadcast.

SirLurksAlot | Friday January 7, 2011 05:27 pm 10

is it just me, or did the FDL server fall over?

marymccurnin | Friday January 7, 2011 05:30 pm 11
In response to SirLurksAlot @ 10

Probably you. I am not having any issues. Try clearing your cache.

SirLurksAlot | Friday January 7, 2011 05:33 pm 12
In response to marymccurnin @ 11

thanks – am back and running OK….not sure what happened. oh well.

marymccurnin | Friday January 7, 2011 05:35 pm 13
In response to SirLurksAlot @ 12

The tubes got crossed or somfin like that.

bmaz | Friday January 7, 2011 05:54 pm 14

Whoa, I thought Elmer’s scene was long dead. Guess not. Good times Between Clark & Hilldale.

demi | Friday January 7, 2011 06:24 pm 15

Late response. Lisa, regarding how the story changed as time went by. I asked my husband about that. He said, Well the police department has a PR department. The people don’t.
So, thanks from me for reporting for the people. Hugs.

Larue | Friday January 7, 2011 06:34 pm 16

Why did/was the last band cancelled?

Did the club cancel the show and if so, why?

There’s a LOT of basic questions not addressed here . . .

I’m curious as to what happened, in detail.

mayhempix | Saturday January 8, 2011 01:21 am 17

Wow! I was at that show with my son because the keyboard player of TSOL is a friend and put us on the guest list.

We left just at the end of TSOL’s set and I can remember that at first they didn’t want to let us out the door. We had valet parking around the corner and apparently drove off just before the shit hit the fan.

I can say that the crowd inside, although enjoying the music and going through the typical punk jump on the stage thing, wasn’t out of control or looking for trouble. TSOL did nothing to incite them to any violence and I have no idea why the last band was cancelled.

Apparently there had been a problem outside by those who couldn’t get in but forcing the those inside who were oblivious to what was going on in front out onto the sidewalk and then attacking them as part of the problem was an asinine move by the police. They should have kept them inside and let the show continue.

It does seem that the police overreacted and probably did more to fuel the riot than the kids did.

Same as it ever was…

szielinski | Saturday January 8, 2011 06:27 am 18

I think LA > NYC in the Police Riot competition.

Lisa Derrick | Monday January 10, 2011 12:29 pm 19
In response to Larue @ 16

The last band was canceled because the bouncers who had been fighting with some kids outside then had to deal with ticketholders who couldnt get in because the show was OVERSOLD; my guy inside said it felt like they were over capacity. Had the show gone on, there would not have been this sort of mess, since nothing upsets concert goers more than a show getting canceled at the last minute, then walking out into the arms of the sheriffs who weren’t so happy at the speed with which the crowd was moving.

Andre said the riot police were in place before the kids were let out. Maybe all available bouncers were out front when they were needed inside to look over those rebellious punk rockers, a decent percentage of whom are of AARP age and saw the Bace Hall riot and other law enforcement vs punks actions–like LAPD chief Darryl Gates checking Black Flags tour dates, then having staff callings the police departments and venues along the route and warning them abut the band and what hellions and rabble rousers the punks were, a scourge worse than hippies–but the cops fired and maced first.

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