April 3, 2012

A tale of two cities: Louisville experiences calm as Lexington riots

 By Baylee Pulliam–

Folks in Louisville and Lexington are still recovering from Saturday’s University of Louisville vs. the University of Kentucky Final Four matchup.

In Lexington, city offices are cleaning up after a night of Cats fans’ wild celebrations, resulting in busted out windows and fire-scorched couches, mailboxes and tree branches.

But in Louisville, the recovery is more an emotional one, as disheartened U of L fans accept the reality of their spoiled shot at the NCAA championship.

After the buzzer sounded Saturday night, a few Cards fans in Louisville tried to light a miniature UK car flag on fire. But save a few alcohol-charged fans yelling expletives, the tone on campus was somber.

“There just wasn’t a lot of anger,” said Harry Ghooray, a Resident Assistant at Betty Johnson Hall, who watched the small crowd through the lobby windows. “Just disappointment.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office posted officers in the U of L SAC and in a squad car in front of the Red Barn. Sections of Third Street were closed off, gearing up for a crowd like the one that formed after last Saturday’s victory over Florida.

“We just wanted to be prepared in case [Louisville] won,” said U of L Police shift commander, Lieutenant David James.

Officers from the Jefferson County Sherriff's Office stand on a nearby empty street in front of Cardinal Towne.

Over at U of L’s Clucker’s chicken, the restaurant floor is still sticky from beer, spilled by the over 200 basketball fans that came to watch the game.

Sarah Jones, a server who was working there Saturday, said most Cards fans left quietly after the buzzer, slowly trickling into the intersection of Cardinal Blvd. and Third St. But “there were a few who stayed. They just sat there shaking their heads,” said the senior exercise science major.

James said the roads were reopened at around 10 p.m. No injuries were reported in the aftermath of the game in Louisville.

But in Lexington, it was a different story entirely.

Ten injuries and 50 nuisance fires were reported throughout the night. Despite beefed-up security on and around the UK campus and the closing of streets, more security had to be called in.

UK student Will Finnell said he saw a girl struggling to get her car off the street, but “she had people climbing on her car and busting in her windows.” He said elsewhere fans threw glass beer bottles.

Police officers in riot gear, some even mounted on horses, were called in as back up. Officers in some locations had to use pepper spray to control the celebrating fans.

At least thirteen arrests were reported and the UK students caught will be subject to disciplinary action due to violation of the university’s student code of conduct.

Finnell said the fans didn’t mean any harm. They were proud of their team, and “everyone just wanted to party and dance and what not.”

Kassie Roberts contributed to this article.

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Photo courtesy of Tessa Lightly/Kentucky Kernel

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