Tulsa Parents, Police React To Booker T. Washington Violence Control

Saturday, September 12th 2009, 4:50 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Police officers say there were at least six fights Friday night during the Booker T. Washington - East Central high school football game. Dozens of people were involved and three were arrested.

Officials are getting a better understanding of what happened during the third quarter of the game. Security officers say dozens of non-students went to the football stadium with the intention of starting a brawl.

"Fights just broke out all over the place," said Dwight Jackson, Assistant Chief of Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police.

It began with five people fighting inside the stadium shortly after halftime. That set off a chain reaction of violence, police said.

"We had them running south, we had them running east," Jackson said. "There were about five or six fights, after the first fight."

Eight TPS police officers were there, trying to contain the fights. Tulsa Police brought close to 30 officers of their own. They said they were treating the game as a riot scene.

"We had to use what we had to use, in order to get the fight stopped," Jackson said.

What they used was pepper spray.

Some fans say it was sprayed excessively.

"Everybody was getting to the point where they couldn't breathe," said Emanuel Collier, a parent who was at the football game with his family. "And then you got hundreds of people trying to get out at the same time, trampling on each other. I think some people, innocently, got hurt."

Related Story 9/11/2009: Fights Break Out At B.T. Washington Game

"We're going to continue to use pepper spray when it's necessary," said TPS Campus Police Chief Gary Rudick.

The Tulsa Public Schools Police Chief says it's the safest option.

"Pepper spray is the mildest form of controlling people," Rudick said. "It's the mildest form of force. Much less than grabbing hold of people and putting them in armbars or hitting them with sticks."

Paramedics treated nine people on site, and transported three patients to the hospital. We're told all injuries are non life-threatening.

"They started spraying with mace, people started getting sick, people got trampled over," Emanuel Collier said. "It was just a sad situation, really."

Chief Rudick says Booker T. and East Central students were not involved in the fighting. But students were acting disorderly and not returning to their seats.

School officials cancelled the game.

"You come out with your family, you want to enjoy a football game," Collier said.  "And this is exactly what you don't want to see."

The violence never reached the field. When the game was cancelled, Booker T. was beating East Central 28-7. The game will not be replayed, and it counts as a victory for Booker T.