June 6, 2012
Students in Florence, South Carolina got a real world police state lesson when a mother was incarcerated for cheering too loudly for her daughter during her graduation.
Shannon Cooper told MSNBC that she couldn’t contain her joy when she heard her daughter’s name over the loudspeaker: “As soon as they said ‘Christin’ I stood up, started praising, woohooing and cheering it up for my baby. I was like ‘Go baby! You did it!”
Unfortunately, her excitement was short-lived. After cheering, a cop pointed her out: “The police officer pointed his finger at me and said ‘Stop right here. The lady right there in white, she’s going to jail.’”
Cooper told WPDE she was speechless and in disbelief: “Are you serious? You for real? I didn’t say anything. I was shocked.”
She was next escorted to a police van and held for 45 minutes after she allegedly violated a request from the school district to be as orderly as possible during the ceremony.
Her daughter, Iesha Cooper, was notified by other students of her mother’s detainment: “They’re locking your momma up for cheering – and I was like that isn’t right because other people was [sic] cheering and they didn’t lock them up,” said Iesha.
Although she was able to see her mother in the van after walking off the stage, she was nonetheless saddened: “That’s all I could picture, me crying looking at the police van, knowing my mama was in there.”
In all fairness, Shannon Cooper had been warned not to cheer. MSNBC interviewed Police Chief Anson Shells who defended police actions by pointing to letters sent to parents warning them to “behave” during the ceremony: “The school district made an announcement and sent out letters to all of the parents for everyone to be as orderly as they can during the ceremony and so on and so forth…That was the rule.” If they failed to do so, they would be escorted out, he told MSNBC.
However, Cooper was not only “escorted out.” She was charged with disorderly conduct, forced to stay in jail for several hours, and had to pay a $225 fine.
Shells told MSNBC that two others were also arrested during the commencement service.
I took the pleasure of writing the next graduation notification for the Florence School District, clarifying a few points:
During graduation commencement ceremonies all parents, under penalty of law, are required to SIT DOWN and SHUT UP! A stiff fine and jail time will be imposed upon anyone who defies this order.
Parents will exhibit no reaction whatsoever upon hearing their child’s name. A graduation ceremony is no place to display this type of behavior.”