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article imageCheering On Grads In south Carolina Leads To Arrests

By KJ Mullins     Jun 14, 2008 in World
The authorities that be at Rock Hill in Columbia, South Carolina meant it when they told the audience to hold their applause until the end. Seven people were arrested for loud cheering during this year's graduation ceremony.
On Friday one person was charged with disorderly conduct at the ceremonies at York Comprehensive High School while six more had handcuffs attached to their wrists at Fort Mill High School on Saturday.
"I just thought they were going to escort me out," Jonathan Orr told The Herald of Rock Hill, about 70 miles north of Columbia. "I had no idea they were going to put handcuffs on me and take me to jail."
The 21 year old spent two hours in the slammer for yelling for his cousin at York's commencement.
The Rock Hill police started the heavy handed tactics several years ago at the request of school districts. The schools complained that the happy cheers were a disruption at the ceremonies. Rock Hill police spokesman Lt. Jerry Waldrop explained that those who cheer during the commencements will be prosecuted for bad behavior.
One of those arrested William Massey, 19, admitted that there were warnings prior to the ceremony but he didn't realize that he could be arrested. He said that he clapped and gave a small whoop for which he will fight.
"There's a lot more people that did it than six or seven," said Massey, who graduated from Fort Mill last year.
The principal at Fort Mill says that while he asked for the police presence he did not ask for offenders to be arrested. He does though plan on using the police patrols at future graduation ceremonies.
"We think it's important for every graduate's name to be heard and for every person in the arena to be able to see that student cross the stage. ... That's why we have disruptive guests removed," he said.
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