Fans burn couches, flip cars after Kentucky’s win
Riot police used pepper spray in small amounts for crowd control
as thousands of rowdy fans swarmed into the streets near the
University of Kentucky campus, overturning cars and lighting
couches ablaze after a victory over cross-state rival Louisville in
a Final Four matchup.
Police had been bracing for the possibility of post-game
violence and resorted to pepper spray though large amounts weren’t
needed before they ultimately began dispersing the throngs,
Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.
She said 150 officers deployed on the streets at one point to
quell what she called ”a very dangerous situation with the fires
and the violence” that dragged on for hours.
”It’s a fairly difficult situation, but not anything we didn’t
plan for,” Roberts told The Associated Press.
Lexington City spokeswoman Susan Straub said police made fewer
than 10 arrests, and a few injuries were reported after the
celebrations turned rowdy in the streets after the Wildcats’ 69-61
win in New Orleans.
Roberts subsequently told The Lexington Herald-Leader that by 1
a.m. there had been at least 13 arrests, including several people
suspected of arson. The newspaper also reported (
http://bit.ly/Hbecx7 ) police had to dodge flying beer bottles
while taking fire extinguishers to put out dozens of fires
involving sofas, trash and other debris set ablaze in the streets.
There were no immediate reports of any serious injuries to
Many streets had already been blocked off around Kentucky’s
Lexington campus earlier to make way for the crowds, but sirens
blared and police shut down more streets when the blazes broke out.
Twitter feeds reported police in riot gear moved in to disperse
crowds as some people on the streets were overturning and
vandalizing vehicles and others smashed glass bottles.
Straub said the crowds began to disperse by about 11 p.m.,
nearly three hours after the game ended. But she said at no point
had things ”gotten out of control.”
Roberts said a street sweeping machine was called in later at
night to clean debris where crowds had departed. But authorities
had no immediate report on the damages. ”I think it would be hard
to estimate (damages) at this point,” she added.
Earlier in the week, Lexington’s mayor and UK’s president had
exhorted fans to respect property and neighbors. But the city and
university were prepared for a fiery celebration after police
reported at least a dozen couch fires last week after Kentucky’s
win over Baylor to earn a Final Four berth.
”We’ve come at this with a significant show of force,” Straub
The raucous street scenes triggered a rebuke from UK spokesman
”It is unfortunate that a small number of people are using what
should be a night of celebration as an excuse to attempt to tarnish
the university and the community,” Blanton said in a statement.
”To the extent that students are involved in any illegal activity
or actions that violate the university’s student code, they will be
dealt with appropriately.”
In New Orleans, Micah Fielden, Kentucky’s student body
president, had earlier urged his fellow students in a tweet not to
be destructive. ”Let’s be smart and act like we’ve been here
before,” he wrote on his Twitter feed.
The celebration was controlled when it began as celebrating fans
streamed out onto the streets. At stoplights, fans hanging out of
their cars chanted ”C-A-T-S” while police and firefighters
watched from the sidelines before the fires were lit.
Things were more peaceful 70 miles away in Louisville, where
heartbroken Cardinals fans gathered on a closed street near campus
and chanted ”C-A-R-D-S” while waving a school flag.
Louisville fans were divided over whether to root for their
rival in Monday’s championship game against Kansas.
”Even though it’s a Kentucky team, I hope they lose,” said
Michael Funke, who watched the game from a pizzeria just off
Kentucky and Louisville fans took in the game from bars,
restaurants and living rooms as their uneasy co-existence was
challenged by the high stakes.
Saturday’s game culminated a week of buildup in the state, with
many fans recalling the ”Dream Game” between the teams in
That year, Louisville beat Kentucky in overtime in the NCAA
Mideast Regional Finals. It was the teams’ first meeting since
1959. It took the governor to get the two schools together on an
annual basis, and before Saturday the Wildcats were 18-11 since the
annual game started in 1983-84.
Saturday’s game was the fifth time the schools had met in the
NCAA tournament – the two sides having split the four previous
Kentucky won the earlier matchup this season, 69-62 on Dec.
Associated Press Writer Janet Cappiello contributed to this