Hollywood hooligans. It was another violent night on the streets of L.A, but it had nothing to do with protests that erupted over the Trayvon Martin case. Police say up to 40 young people went on a robbery and vandalism spree along Hollywood Boulevard, grabbing purses, snatching cell phones and knocking people down.
The 911 calls started coming in after 9 p.m. Callers said marauding groups of young people were robbing and in some cases assaulting pedestrians in the busy tourist area. Several stores were also targeted and a cash register was taken from one business.
More than 100 police officers poured into the area, but the mob splintered into groups and the incidents continued for more than an hour. By the time it was over, police had arrested at least 14 people, both male and female and most of them minors. They plan to scour surveillance video today in an effort to identify more suspects.
Police say the attackers appeared to be an organized group who knew one another. They stressed that there was no apparent connection to protests stemming from George Zimmerman’s acquittal in his trial for killing Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. KABC
Mayor banker. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a new job. He’s been hired as a part-time adviser for Irvine-based Bank of California, a fast growing community bank. The bank says the former mayor will help it shape its strategy for growing its home and small business lending portfolios. Villaraigosa says he wants his new position – his first in the corporate world – to provide him the opportunity to figure out ways to give home loans to people hit hard by the recession. He declined to discuss his salary or compensation package. L.A. Times
Hunger strike. Prison medical workers have their hands full as they keep tabs on the conditions of 2,500 inmates who have been on a hunger strike for more than a week. The number of inmates taking part in the protest stayed the same yesterday. Prison officials expect to complete an initial health review of all the striking inmates today. They are also distributing information about the dangers of long-term fasting. The inmates are protesting solitary confinement policies and demanding better food and more educational opportunities, among other things. L.A. Times
Plane crash. Asiana Airlines has dropped plans to sue a Bay Area TV station for airing fake, derogatory names of the pilots on a flight that crashed at San Francisco Airport. KTVU quickly retracted the report and issued an apology. In threatening to sue, Asiana said the incident damaged its reputation. The National Transportation Board has fired an intern who confirmed the phony names during a phone call. Meanwhile, four South Korean pilots on that Asiana flight are being treated in South Korea for psychological trauma and injuries caused by the incident. CBS News
Smart plates. California license plates could be going high tech. A bill working its way through the state Senate would create a pilot program with as many as 160,000 cars testing digital plates. The plates have a digital screen and wireless capability. Backers say they’ll make the car registration process easier and save the DMV millions in postage each year. But privacy advocates are waving a red flag. They say the digital plates would give the government access to a driver’s location at any time. Sacramento Bee