Kentucky Wins but Students Lose in Basketball Riot Photos

Rioters burn posters and their own shirts after the Kentucky’s 67-59 victory over Kansas in the NCAA national championship title during celebrations on State Street in Lexington, Kentucky, on April 2, 2012.

Photo: Christian Randolph

When the University of Kentucky beat the University of Kansas last night to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship, chaos ensued on the streets of Lexington. One person was shot and many injured as thousands of people celebrated the team’s eighth championship win.

The rioting, however, was not as severe as what happened just two days earlier at the school’s civil war game, when Kentucky beat in-state rival Louisville in the Final Four.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” says Christian Randolph, a Western Kentucky University photojournalism student who was there both nights to document the chaos. “I photographed outside when the Lakers won the NBA championship, but this to me was 10 times crazier than that.”

Randolph’s photos from both riots show a scene that looks less like a celebration and more like a dystopian war zone. In most of his shots some kind of fire is burning as student torch couches, cars and whatever else they can get their hands on, including their own shirts.

One of the most disturbing shots is of a young woman getting groped by several men all at the same time.

Randolph says that same scene played out all night after the championship win. “Girls would get up on a guy’s shoulders and it would happen over and over again.”

The worst injury Randolph saw was when someone took a glass bottle to the head. He said there was also a danger of getting trampled by the crowd when the cops moved in to try and stop the students from starting more fires.

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