After Kentucky’s impressive 67-59 victory over Kansas last night in the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Championship Title Game a new form of social media gained considerable popularity. No, I’m not talking about Instagram being introduced to Droid devices, but of the advent of the police scanner as a tool for entertainment. As jubilant Kentucky fans continued their out of control celebration into the early hours of the morning, millions of people around the world listened in to the Lexington Police Scanner which was broadcast on the internet and through TuneIn Radio’s mobile app. Shortly after 2 AM, the trending topic #LexingtonPoliceScanner became the #1 topic worldwide on the social network Twitter and fans of the Wildcats became the butt of many jokes.
The disorderly celebration in Lexington, Kentucky, home of the University of Kentucky main campus, actually began late on Saturday night after the Wildcats defeated in-state rivals Louisville in the first game of the Final Four. That night more than 50 fires were reported around campus and more than 30 people were arrested, mainly for alcohol intoxication and disorderly conduct. Even before that game fans were warned not to be destructive and to celebrate responsibly and local television news reports made it a point to show what acceptable behavior was and what was inappropriate. Student body president, Micha Fielden, also tried tweeting pleas to his fellow student body “We won the game but don’t be destructive. Let’s be smart and act like we’ve been here before (more than 7 times)”. Obviously his tweets fell on deaf ears.
After the riots on Saturday Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastion again urged fans to celebrate responsibly and warn students that they could face repercussions for their behavior. In a statement the Chief made he said “We want to send a clear and strong message that individuals who engage in this behavior will be investigated and prosecuted. If you choose to commit criminal acts, don’t be surprised when we knock on your door even days after the event and arrest you”. Well, Chief Bastion, time for you to get to work, because those pleas fell on deaf and drunk ears.
Last night in Lexington dozens (if not hundreds) of couches were burned in the streets during the celebration, rivaling the mischief that made Morgantown, West Virginia and West Virginia University famous. Garbage cans and other items were also lit on fire, causing the Lexington fire department to make over 56 runs throughout the night. Thankfully no major injuries were reported from that. One of the strangest events of the night came pretty early in the celebration, when fans tried to break a tree. I’d elaborate on that, but I’m not really even sure what that means. Also, there was one serious event that left a 31-year-old man without a foot. Earlier today Lexington police spokeswoman Sherrelle Roberts reported that Harold Calloway remained hospitalized this afternoon after he was shot around 2 A.M. as Kentucky fans were celebrating in the streets. Police say doctors needed to amputate the man’s foot, and while they don’t typically identify wounded victims they did so in this case because Calloway had outstanding criminal warrants in Indiana.
Several dozen arrests were made last night in Big Blue Nation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many dozen still to come over the next few days as investigations continue. Lexington police declined to make an estimate on the number of arrests made, but they did mention that pepper spray was used to break up some fights between unruly fans. The events of Saturday night and last evening are sobering reminders of what can happen when you have a mob-mentality and things only become more uncontrollable with the presence of alcohol and other drugs, and it is truly a miracle that nobody lost their lives during this crazy display of human behavior.