Sunday, May 27

[BREAKING NEWS]: Police respond to 'unlawful assembly' around Landfair couch fire

Local law enforcement responded to what appeared to be a couch
fire in the middle of the street on the 600 block of Landfair
Avenue early Sunday morning. In the altercation, police officers
fired guns with what witnesses believed to be rubber bullets, hit
students with batons, and forced students into the nearest
apartment buildings.

At approximately 1:55 a.m., two fire trucks arrived on the
scene, and the Los Angeles Police Department was on citywide alert
as of 3 a.m.

A crowd of people, many of whom said they were there to
celebrate the UCLA football team’s upset victory over USC on
Saturday, had gathered around the blaze. Witnesses at the scene
estimated the crowd to be around 200 to 300, while UCPD gave an
estimate of 2,000 people.

At least one couch was set ablaze, and witnesses said as many as
four couches were brought out.

Students present reported being forced back from the partially
extinguished bonfire by law enforcement. Members of the crowd were
throwing glass bottles toward the fire, police officers and the

As the crowd attempted to leave the scene shortly after, police
began firing on them and forced many from the street. University
police could not confirm whether rubber bullets were shot.

LAPD and UCPD were on tactical alert, trying to control the West
side of Los Angeles as of 2:30 a.m.

The call to police was made from 632 Landfair Ave. regarding a
couch on fire, though later reports were made that multiple couches
were involved, according to UCPD Capt. John Adams.

The incident commander for LAPD on the scene called the
gathering an unlawful assembly, according to UCPD, and asked people
to disperse.

Adams said UCPD used no force against the crowd, and LAPD used
"less-than-lethal force."

Students present reported being frightened by the situation and
the police presence.

“It’s not every day that a helicopter with bright-ass
lights is flying over Westwood, and the riot police,” said
Jake Kaizer-Salk, president of Alpha Epilson Pi, a fraternity
located at the corner of Roebling and Landfair avenues.

Students also said they were upset about being forced into
unfamiliar buildings.

“I’m in an apartment where I don’t know anyone. … Seems
like (police) took care of the situation and then went
beyond,” said Dan Hugo, a second-year business economics

Another student said she called UCPD dispatch and was told that
students forced into apartment buildings would be allowed to return
home. But when students approached riot police, they were told to
return to the buildings.

Members of the crowd said they were there to celebrate the
victory or just to see what was going on when police arrived on the

Students present expressed a fear of police based on the recent
Taser incident in Powell Library.

“I just came up to see the bonfire. … A bunch of people
(started) yelling about being Tasered and then it started raining
rubber bullets,” said Aaron Stein, a fourth-year psychology

“The frat guys were just throwing bottles, aiming at the
cops ““ I told them not to because they were just hitting
pedestrians,” he said.

Stein said members of the crowd were both fueling the fire, as
well as trying to extinguish it.

Before police moved in with riot gear to disperse the crowd,
bystanders were attempting to extinguish the fire with a hose and
trash cans full of water. A vehicle parked near the scene was
damaged from the blaze.

Police in riot gear moved down Landfair Avenue and then further
dispersed the crowd on Roebling Avenue toward Levering Avenue.

Claudia Sevilla, a fourth-year biochemistry student who was
attempting to leave the scene, said the police were telling people
to “get the fuck off the sidewalk.”

Sevilla, who was on crutches because of a broken ankle, said she
got hit in the back with what witnesses thought were rubber
bullets, and said it felt like being shot with a paintball gun.

At 2:40 a.m., students cautiously ventured back onto the
Landfair sidewalk, while helicopters still hovered overhead.

Other crimes reported in the area Saturday night and early
Sunday morning included vandalism and burglary, Adams said.

With reports from Lindsey Morgan, Jennifer Mishory, and
Anthony Pesce, Bruin senior staff.

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