Studio City ‘Hood Party’ sparks gang raid

By Tony Castro, Daily News Staff Writer

A historic Studio City club where the Beatles once held a press conference was the site of a major police gang raid early Thursday morning, when 17 South Los Angeles gangbangers were arrested and a “Hood Party” of 400 people broken up.

The party was held to celebrate the designated birthday of the notorious Rollin’ 60s Neighborhood Crips gang. Police said they may have come to the Valley because they are facing a court injunction preventing them from gathering in public in parts of South L.A.

Nine gang members were arrested for parole violations, five for probation violations and three for outstanding warrants at Platinum Live, 11345 Ventura Blvd., at about 1:30 a.m., police said.

“The Rollin’ 60s have been designated as one of the top 10 gangs in the city of Los Angeles,” said LAPD Sgt. Dan Horan, of the 77th Division gang enforcement unit. “We’re going to follow them to Studio City or anywhere else in Los Angeles where we find that they’re gathering.”

Police blocked off nearby streets as about 100 officers descended on the club, which was rented out Wednesday night and Thursday morning exclusively for the party.

A club spokesman said police arrived with guns drawn and without any sirens in a surprise raid as the party neared its end.

No injuries were reported during the raid. Police said they might have made more arrests but a malfunctioning computer used to check parole violations led to some gang members being released on scene.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of the people at the party were also gang members, police said.

The presence of such a large contingent of South L.A. gang members at one location in the San Fernando Valley raised eyebrows among anti-gang law enforcement authorities.

“The concern it raises is that all these street gangs are criminal enterprises whose existence is based on violence, and although they prey upon each other, sometimes this can spill over to innocent people in our neighborhoods,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore, the San Fernando Valley’s top cop.

The Rollin’ 60s are under a 2003 court injunction filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which bans members from associating in public with one another.

But that injunction, authorities said, only prohibits Rollin’ 60s members meeting in numbers within a specific geographic “safety zone” in South L.A.

On Thursday morning, officers from the LAPD’s 77th Division gang enforcement unit in South Los Angeles and officers from its counterpart at the North Hollywood Division joined forces for the surprise raid.

Police said they had been tipped off about the large gang gathering, which they said was an apparent attempt to circumvent gang injunction restrictions.

Horan said police emptied the club onto the parking lot where all 400 party-goers were checked for weapons and the 17 were singled out for the various violations.

No one was arrested for firearms violations, Horan said.

Police suspected that weapons may have been hidden in the club.

“But we weren’t able to fully investigate because we couldn’t get a lot of cooperation from the club’s management,” Horan said.

Club spokeswoman Francine Marseille disputed that account, saying police were given full access to the premises and were “allowed to search without any restrictions” for well over an hour.

Police said a “strong odor” of marijuana was apparent in the club lobby and even as far as the sidewalk in front of the club with its Art Deco-like facade.

“Inside there was a lot of marijuana being smoked in there – it kind of smelled like a Bob Marley concert when you walked in there,” said Horan.

But police reported making no arrests for drug violations.

“After a thorough search by police, no drugs or illegal weapons of any kind were located in the club and over 90 percent of the party’s attendees were cleared of any wrongdoing and released by law enforcement,” the club said in a written statement.

Police said they have documented 1,200 members belonging to the Rollin’ 60s gang.

“They’re large in numbers and notorious in their activity,” Horan said.

Another Platinum Live spokesman, David Carlat, said in a written statement that club officials did not know they had rented the premises for a gang party.

“I was completely unaware of gang affiliated attendees,” said Carlat.

Moore said the LAPD has begun working with Platinum Live and other club owners to be mindful about whom they rent out their facilities – and potential for violence and crime from renting their clubs to gang members.

A Platinum Live official identified as Michael Scarponi was quoted by one news account as saying:

“(Police) just busted in the door and told my security to leave. They pretty much just took over the club.”

Platinum Live’s Web site and a prepared statement detail a history of the landmark supper club and cabaret dating back to the 1930s, when it was called the Grace Hayes Lodge.

Known later as the Cinnamon Cinder, operated by promoter and game show host Bob Eubanks, the club was the site of a Beatles press conference Aug. 23, 1964, while on the Los Angeles leg of their first American tour.

Police said they did not know if this was the first time the Rollin’ 60s or any other gang had partied at the club, which bills itself as “the premiere Los Angeles location for your next private event.”

But it is not uncommon for gang members to meet outside their respective turfs to celebrate the “Hood Day,” which Horan said was Wednesday, June 10 for the Rolllin’ 60s.

“Every June 10th, this gang has a party to celebrate `Hood Day,”‘ Horan said. “For want of a better way of putting it, it’s their birthday. It comes from the number 6 for June and 10 for the day. You multiply it and it’s 60, their gang name.”

Horan said almost all gangs have similar celebrations to mark the anniversary of their formation.

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