Officials say they will tolerate only peaceful celebration; arrests expected from Saturday

Police Chief Ronnie Bastin about postgame celebrations on Saturday and how the force will deal with possible celebrations Monday night after the NCAA championship game during a news conference involving Lexington police, fire officials, and the UK dean of students in Lexington, Ky., on Monday. Photo by Mike Weaver | Staff

By Becca Clemons

Lexington and UK officials said that while the majority of students and UK fans acted appropriately Saturday night, criminal behavior by some will not be tolerated Monday night, and those caught breaking the law will be subject to criminal and possibly university disciplinary action.

At a news conference Monday, police Chief Ronnie Bastin said photos and videos taken Saturday will be used in the coming week to identify and charge those who threw beer bottles at police and others, lit a car on fire and otherwise endangered others or damaged property.

“This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated,” Bastin said.

He said Lexington police will have more officers out Monday, but he would not give specific numbers.

He said some of the people in a video of a car being lit on fire on State Street Saturday will be charged with acts of arson and/or wanton endangerment once identified. Those identified as having thrown bottles at officers could be charged with wanton endangerment or assault. More than 30 arrests were made Saturday.

He said no arrests from photos or videos have been made so far, but those charged afterward could expect knocks on their doors days later, even if they are not arrested in the act of committing a crime.

Related link: Crowd of thousands starts fires, destroy cars on State Street after Cats win; UK officials release statements.

Related link: Cars flipped, fires started on State Street as fans celebrate UK win.

Lexington police showed screenshots of photos and video from postgame celebrations on Saturday and talked about how the force will deal with possible celebrations Monday after the NCAA championship game at the news conference involving Lexington police, fire officials, and the UK dean of students in Lexington, Ky., on Monday. Photo by Mike Weaver | Staff

Officials showed a presentation featuring screenshots from video of those who poured lighter fluid on an overturned car and lit the car on fire with an article of clothing. They said those people could face arson charges once identified. Others, who were seen shooting fireworks on the corner of Woodland and Euclid avenues, could be charged with wanton endangerment.

Related link: VIDEOS: Car lit on fire, fans rowdy on State Street following UK win over Louisville.

UK police Chief Joe Monroe said UK police will be in full force on campus Monday night and will assist Lexington police at certain off-campus areas. He said the behavior of some people on State Street “does not reflect the proud history of this university.”

UK Dean of Students Victor Hazard said students breaking the law could be subject to disciplinary action from the university, in addition to any legal action from police. He said this action could include a letter of warning, period of probation, suspension or expulsion, based on the facts specific to each case.

“We encourage you to be safe, be responsible and make good decisions as we anticipate a celebration,” Hazard said.

Related link: Capilouto tells students, ‘Don’t be stupid.’

Bastin said police are focusing their attention on public safety, the safety of others and property damage, rather than celebratory behavior, such as drinking, that doesn’t get out of hand.

He said police expected a large-scale celebration Saturday night, but locations of the biggest crowds were”different than history has shown us.” Following 1996 and 1998 championship games, the largest crowds gathered at the corner of Woodland and Euclid avenues, rather than State Street, the site of thousands celebrating after UK beat Louisville in the Final Four.

“As long as folks are celebrating and celebrating responsibly, we don’t mind having the observer role,” Bastin said. “We don’t want to hamper a healthy environment where a celebration is occurring.”

“We would prefer to have the role of the observer,” Bastin said.

Related link: Rewards offered for helping identify those engaged in criminal activity Saturday.

The actions of a few that were clearly irresponsible completely overshadowed the incredible and all encompassing sense of happiness and love, that I and many others were feeling all through South Limestone, Avenue of Champions, and Woodland/Euclid. Let’s hope that tonight the high five chains, stranger hugs, and chants of C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats, overwhelms the few who will be too drunk or too bullish to recognize the victory and sense of unity, that the university will be feeling. Let’s have these incredible young men come home to a scene of welcome and congratulations, not arrests, and a burning city. Go Cats!