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Los Angeles police urge peaceful protests

LOS ANGELES -- After a spate of vandalism and violence, Los Angeles police vowed yesterday to crack down with quick action and arrests if further disturbances arise from street protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of a black Florida teenager.

"For those of you who were here last night and came for the wrong reasons, if you come here again tonight, you will go to jail," police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference. "Your actions . . . will reduce the power of the message of this community and that is wrong, that is a shameful act."

Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti urged peaceful protests. Demonstrators must remain on sidewalks and will be arrested if they commit any crimes or block traffic, police said.

In Orlando, meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder strongly criticized stand-your-ground laws that allow a person who believes he is in danger to use deadly force in self-defense. In an address to an NAACP convention, Holder said the Justice Department has an open investigation into what happened in the Sanford confrontation, in which Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed.

But he added: "Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."

The zero-tolerance policy in California is a result of protests that began in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles and in the city of Oakland after the acquittal of Zimmerman on Saturday.

In Los Angeles, Deputy Chief Bob Green, who heads the South Bureau, said officers were pelted with rocks Monday night as they stood by monitoring the Crenshaw protests. Police said 14 people were arrested, primarily for failing to disperse, with one person taken into custody for inciting a riot.

Police said about 150 people split from the demonstration Monday at a Crenshaw-area park, running through the streets, jumping on cars, trying to break store windows and committing assaults. A Wal-Mart store was vandalized.

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