A woman was arrested at her daughter's high school graduation because she cheered too loudly when her daughter received her diploma. Shannon Cooper said that police handcuffed her, placed her in a police van and transferred her to a detention center.
Shannon Cooper's daughter, Christin Iesha Cooper, did not know that her mother had been arrested until her friends told her. Cooper said the incident ruined the best day in her life.
Iesha told WPDE TV that her friends told her, "They’re locking your momma up for cheering — and I was like that isn’t right because other people was cheering and they didn’t lock them up."
MSNBC reports that Cooper, a beautician, admits she made some noise when her daughter went to receive her diploma . She said: "I am a proud mom. And 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.'"
According to MSNBC, Florence Police Chief Anson Shells said people had been warned to behave during commencement ceremonies. According to Shells, police had warned parents before the ceremony began that screaming, shouting and "excessive cheering" was not allowed in the Florence Civic Center and that anyone who screamed would be removed.
MSNBC reports Shells explained that, “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.”
Global Post reports Shells further explained: “According to the report, she was disruptive during the ceremony and ceremonies are considered solemn occasions. Everybody wants to hear their child’s name called and everyone was asked to be respectful and to be quiet.”
But Cooper claimed she was not cheering any louder than other parents at the graduation ceremony of the Florence High School, South Carolina. She said police officers walked her across the Florence Civic Center in full view of everyone. WPDE TV reports that Cooper said the worst aspect of it was the humiliation. She said: "Humiliation. I don't even think humiliation could describe how I felt. You know, because I feel from just my feelings and then looking at my daughter how she felt. I could take you know if I did something, but like I said, yes they said you'll be escorted out no problem. I'll be escorted out. I'll go nicely because I'm gonna cheer. It was hard work. I went through so much to get her to this point you know."
MSNBC reports Cooper said: "The police officer pointed his finger at me and said 'Stop right here. The lady right there in white, she's going to jail' The whole time I was thinking in my mind 'Are you all serious? You for real?' I didn't say anything. I was shocked." WWAY TV reports she added: "I was just like OK, I can't fight the law. I can't argue with the police, but I'm like are you serious? I didn't do any more than the others did. Which I feel like no one should have went to jail."
According to Daily Mail, police refused to comment on the incident but said people who became disorderly while they were being escorted out of the civic center were arrested and detained.
Police say they charged Cooper with disorderly conduct, but Cooper queried: "Disorderly conduct? What's the disorderly conduct? How was I so disorderly you know any different from just a happy parent? I didn't resist arrest, nothing."
Cooper waited in a police van parked outside the civic center for about 45 minutes. She was then driven to the Florence County Detention Center. Cooper said her daughter came outside and broke down crying after seeing her mother in a police van on her graduation day. She said: "I couldn't talk to her or nothing. Nothing at all. Just look from in the van in handcuffs for cheering."
According to Iesha, the incident left her devastated and ruined the best day of her life. She said: "That's all I can picture, me crying, looking at the police van knowing my mother is in there."
Cooper said her daughter's graduation plans had to be postponed following her arrest. According to Iesha: "Yesterday can't be replaced. I'm gonna remember. She gonna remember for the rest of her life. My mama went to jail on my graduation day."
WPDE TV reports mother and daughter celebrated on Sunday afternoon with a family barbeque and cake.
According to The Blaze, "over cheering" rules have been enforced in other states. NY Daily News reports that Anthony Cornist, a high school student at the Mt. Healthy Junior/Senior High School in Ohio, was denied his diploma last week because his "family and supporters gave him a rowdy reception." School officials told him he would have to perform 20 hrs of community service before he can graduate.
It is not certain why Cornist was punished for the behavior of others. According to The Blaze, Cornist was popular at the school because he was a star on the school's football team. He said that the crowd responded spontaneously when he appeared on stage to receive his diploma. He did not think it was fair that the school authorities blamed him for the crowd's reaction.