In 1993, what happened at the Circle Lanes bowling alley in Hampton, Virginia?
#115062. Asked by star_gazer. (Jun 02 10 11:57 PM)
A Virginia town has split along racial lines over a stiff jail sentence meted out to high school basketball star Allen Iverson
by Ned Zeman
October 25, 1993
... After last Feb. 13, however, everything changed. That was when Iverson, then 17, and a bunch of friends—mostly jocks, all Bethel students, all black—headed to Circle Lanes to bowl some games, eat some burgers, make some noise. The woman at the counter sent them to the end of the alley, to a lane against the wall. To Michael Simmons, the tight end who has been a pal of Iverson's since grade school, that always seemed to happen. You boys, over there. By the time they got their shoes and balls, it was 10:30. The place was rocking.
The black kids started goofing. They bowled on a closed lane, stood on chairs, cursed a bit too loudly. Stupid jock stuff. Somebody from the alley told them to cool it, then told them again. But, hey, it was Saturday night, heading into Valentine's Day, time for a little fun. Iverson was the leader, the point guard, the quarterback. Bubbachuck, they called him, and what he said went. When Iverson began thinking cheeseburger, more than one friend offered to go with him to the snack bar on the other side of the alley. Over by a group of white guys.
As Iverson approached, the white guys were finishing their last game, not to mention their last pitcher. They had been at it since 8:30. Steve Forrest, 22, and Iverson exchanged looks, and that was when it began. The way Iverson tells it, somebody in Forrest's party called him a "nigger" and a "little boy." Forrest is a big guy—6'2", 200 pounds—and he'd had his share of scrapes, including a felony conviction for cocaine possession. But Iverson, at 6'1" and 175, was smaller only on paper. He has the lean, sculpted body of the superb athlete that he is. This year Parade magazine named him the top high school basketball player in the country and one of the top 10 football players. He played quarterback and safety, and returned six kickoffs for touchdowns in 1992, his junior year. That night he was the most recognizable person in Hampton.
"You ain't gonna do nothin' to me," Iverson says he responded, his nose an inch from Forrest's. Then, according to Iverson and his friends, Forrest swung a chair at him and set off a melee in which chairs, fists and slurs flew like bowling pins. Several of Iverson's pals waded in and overwhelmed the whites. Another bunch of whites, who didn't know either group and didn't want to, was caught up; two people were knocked unconscious, one of them a 23-year-old college student, Barbara Steele, who was struck by a chair and would receive six stitches near her left eye.
Police moved in and later made four arrests. To many in Hampton, particularly blacks, who make up 39% of the city of 134,000 people, this is the key: All four suspects—Iverson; Simmons, 18; Melvin Stephens Jr., 17; and Samuel Wynn, 18—were black. "It's strange enough that the police waded through a huge mob of fighting people and came out with only blacks, and the one black that everybody knew," says NAACP crisis coordinator Golden Frinks. "But people thought they'd get a slap on the wrist and that would be the end of it." It wasn't, not by a long shot.
Circles Lanes Inc then sued Time Inc, publisher of Sports Illustrated, and Ned Zeman, the journalist
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