This Campanil reporter was accidentally in the right place at the right time last night when a riot broke out on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Los Angeles. It’s the famous intersection where the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame are located and the same area where this year’s ACP College Press Conference The Campanil recently attended in March was held. Still decompressing from my weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con and hungry as heck, my boyfriend Mike and I just happened to be on the top level of the Hollywood and Highland mall to satisfy our shabu shabu craving when all of this went down.
We stepped out of the restaurant an hour later to see others gathering to look over the ledge at some spectacle. Squeezing through, we saw that the street was empty except for a line of police cars blocking off traffic and cops pushing people onto the sidewalks. In the distance on our right, there was a huge noisy, bustling crowd that looked like an ongoing protest or riot. No one really knew what was happening. Mike first thought that it could be because of Lady Gaga since she was going to perform on Jimmy Kimmel this week and his studio was right across the street.
While my initial reaction was “Someone got shot!” and we should probably get out of there ASAP, Mike raced us down the escalators right to the action. Like a ton of people around us, he whipped out his camera to take photos and started live-tweeting on his account @DFTVYP straight away. A blog even took notice of it.
Since news websites haven’t been updated yet, we relied solely on the search results coming up on Twitter for “Hollywood and Highland.” In spite of the chaos around us, we chose to stay because…well, if you knew anything about the busiest intersection in Los Angeles, you know you’ll never see it this empty again!
As the other tweets starting coming in, we eventually found out that the riot broke out during the private premiere for the documentary “Electric Daisy Carnival Experience” outside the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. LA Times reported that police and organizers said “a popular DJ (known as Kaskade) featured in the film may have inadvertently encouraged hundreds of uninvited fans to converge on Hollywood when he tweeted about a block party” to his 90,000 followers: “ME+BIG SPEAKERS+MUSIC=BLOCK PARTY!!!”
As a crowd of hundreds started gathering at the premiere, Kaskade tweeted in reflection: “News choppers overhead. The man trying to shut us down. Hang on I am coming!!! This is crazy.”
He tweeted again shortly after things started getting rowdy: “EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO HOME NOW! I DON’T WANT THIS TO REFLECT BADLY ON EDM OR WHAT WE ARE ABOUT. BE RESPECTFUL AND CHILL OUT!!!”
We weren’t there when police first came in response to the huge, unexpected disturbance. Some rioters started throwing bottles and rocks at the police and climbing on the squad cars. Arrests were quickly made. There are rumors of people planking in protest and one patrol car being lit on fire but that doesn’t seem to be confirmed. We only came in time to see the street being blocked off and the police still in the process of dispersing the giant crowd.
I unfortunately didn’t get around to do interviews but I’ll describe what I’ve witnessed as best as I can:
The officers were really tough about people not walking out onto the streets. One cop sneered at some teenagers with a non-threat about them ending up arrested “on a documentary (their) friends would see” if they stepped off the sidewalk again. A few parents with small children in their arms tried to plead with the officers about crossing over to the other side but were refused. Superhero impersonators Captain America and Spiderman stood around scratching their heads, confused as the rest of us.
A kid climbed up on the ticket booth counter to take a better look and got some serious head-shaking from the cashier behind the window. Some passersby stormed past us and grumbled about needing “to go to work.” Helicopters zipped through the sky above us for hours; as night fell, we couldn’t distinguish the ones piloted by cops from the reporters. Different languages and dialects were spoken in rapid fire, each and every person wondering what the hell was going on.
The real action came when shouts started coming from the huge crowd in the distance and then multiple shots being heard. Hands flew up to cover my mouth. Mike started snapping more photos. People around us were gasping, “They’re shooting guns!” It wasn’t until a little later when we checked Twitter again did we find out the officers were actually shooting bean bags.
But still, imagine getting pelted by bean bags coming at the speed of a shotgun!
We didn’t leave the place for almost four hours since we were parked in the mall garage and there was no way the cops were freeing up the streets yet. We walked back up to the rooftop and watched from above as the scene slowly dispersed, officers marched down the street in straight rows and cop cars pulled away.
The rest of the time, we just kept checking Twitter updates and pondered over the legal consequences of DJ Kaskade’s tweets over dessert.
My night ended with Mike and I standing right behind Paris Hilton and her two friends on the escalator being led away by a security guard for protection. No kidding. Having seen many tall bottle-blondes in Los Angeles, I didn’t realize it was actually her until she looked over her shoulder.
No photo unfortunately, both of us were understandably caught off guard haha.
All photos courtesy of Mike Le. You can follow him on Twitter @DFTVYP.