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City Officials Increase Security Around Staples Center, Warn Hockey Fans To Celebrate Safely

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) —  It’s an exciting time for L.A. Kings fans but authorities ask that they celebrate safely as the team goes on to play for the Stanley Cup at the Staples Center Wednesday night.

“Today we’re encouraging our fans to enjoy the game, to cheer on the Kings and after they win to celebrate safely and responsibly,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference outside Staples Center. “The LAPD will be out in force and will make arrests if they don’t.”

Villaraigosa brought up the recent arrest of a man suspected of setting fire to a taxicab after the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship two years ago.

“I remember standing there and saying we were going to do everything we could to find the people who engaged in acts of arson and riot who acted in a criminally irresponsibly way,” the major said. “Well, we found one and I can guarantee you this: We’re looking for others. So we’re saying to those who would do that kind of thing, learn the lesson of the person who got arrested a few weeks ago. If you engage in violence tonight, the LAPD will find you and arrest you and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“While we take pride in our Kings today and hope to bring the Stanley Cup to L.A. for the first time ever, we don’t want to taint the historic nature of this win in any way,” Villaraigosa said.

“Let’s root for the home team, everybody. Let’s honor this great achievement of the Kings with respect and dignity. Let’s all be responsible in the way that we celebrate what we hope will be a victory tonight, he said.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said hundreds of officers would be stationed in and around Staples Center during and after the game. He said streets would be closed in the area throughout the course of the game and people who do not have tickets would not be permitted.

“I encourage everybody to celebrate the Kings victory tonight,” Beck said. “Do it responsibly. Do it at home. Do it at an appropriate venue. You’re not going to do it on the streets in front of Staples Center. So let’s celebrate the Kings’ victory, but let’s do it right. Don’t spent the weekend in jail because you make a silly mistake tonight.”

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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