Fans trash cars, set fires after UK win

Published Mar. 31, 2012 1:00 a.m. EDT

Police said Sunday that they are satisfied with their work to control the crowds that spilled onto the street after the University of Kentucky defeated crosstown rival Louisville, despite the images of rowdy revelers burning couches and a car that had been flipped over.

So while authorities are evaluating how things went as they prepare for the possibility of more celebrations ahead of Monday night's Final Four Championship game, they aren't anticipating big changes to their plans.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that police had to dodge beer bottles while putting out dozens of fires in the streets.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said there were less than 20 people arrested, no serious injuries and no serious property damage. She said nothing happened that wasn't anticipated and that police were ''very pleased.''


''I think we did pretty good, all things considered,'' she said.

She said the department would meet Sunday afternoon to evaluate things and determine whether any adjustments are needed Monday, when the Wildcats play in the championship.

She said 150 officers deployed on the streets at one point to quell what she called ''a very dangerous situation'' with the fires and violence that dragged on for hours.

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.

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, Roberts said.

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.

Crowds began to disperse by about 11 p.m., nearly three hours after the game ended.

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 said.

The raucous street scenes triggered a rebuke from UK spokesman Jay Blanton.

''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.