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Shootings spoil hometown Thunder celebration

Thunder Alley

“Thunder Alley” outside Chesapeake Energy Arena during OKC Thunder game

For the record, I’d like to address briefly the shootings that followed Monday night’s NBA game in Oklahoma City. Eight people were shot on the street in a downtown area where I’ve been many times, although only reluctantly after dark. More to the point, two of my siblings and their families were at the game that night. I could only hope they were among those who left immediately for home after the game rather than mill around and move toward nearby Bricktown, a renovated warehouse district that has always been a “bad” part of town, despite what the city has tried to do to make it a tourist attraction with restaurants and clubs. Despite that, it remains a typical downtown where going half a block down the wrong street could put you in big trouble.

A lot of media reports made it sound as though the shootings were outside the arena immediately after the game. Not so. My sister said they were home in bed before the shootings occurred more than an hour after the game and some blocks away from the arena. (She referenced “Oklahoma City shootings shut down Thunder Alley watch parties” as an accurate account.) It’s also possible that she was just trying to reassure me.

As my son and I had theorized, the trouble originated in “Thunder Alley,” an area outside the arena where as many as 7,000 people had gathered to watch the game on a giant video screen. A lot of non-fans were hanging around looking for trouble and apparently found it. Family friends there reported feeling “unsafe” and leaving at the end of the game’s third period.

Understandably the city is re-evaluating its options for the upcoming series with the Spurs, but Thunder Alley will be closed. What a shame that a few have spoiled the fun for so many. My son says it’s the “NBA culture.” All I know is it’s my old hometown, with problems it never had before. Is this the inevitable result of hitting the big time and finally getting a national professional sports franchise? If so, I think I’d prefer the “sleepy cowtown” my mom used to grouse about.

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6 Comments »

    • It was no big deal nationally, since stuff like that happens all the time after sports events. Why, I don’t exactly understand. Mob mentality and the anonymity of a large crowd, I guess. But I guarantee the people in and from OKC aren’t used to it. It was scary to hear about.

  1. It is very sad when mindless violence frustrates a sporting event. My countrymen have a terrible reputation abroad for orchestrated violence accompanying football games: it has taken police a long time and a lot of hard graft to get them under control.

    • Had a long conversation about this with my son (he’s a huge football/soccer fan). The only difference we could see between your (European) hooligans and what happens here is yours are usually inside the stadium and ours are usually out on the streets. As for why they do it, we could only conclude, as I noted above, it’s the opportunity, the relative anonymity of a large crowd, and mob mentality. Even so, at the root, it has to be people who want to cause trouble, destroy things, hurt others, etc. And I can’t abide people like that. Stupid, mindless, pointless violence and destruction.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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