A South Carolina mother says she was humiliated when she was taken away in handcuffs during her daughter’s high school graduation in Florence, S.C., for cheering too loudly.
Police say Shannon Cooper’s shouting amounted to disorderly conduct.
“I am still living in shock,” Cooper told msnbc.com. “It all seems like a bad dream, a nightmare of what was to be one of the happiest days of our lives. I cheered for my baby and I got the cuffs.”
Cooper said she was whooping it up when her 18-year-old daughter, Christin Iesha Cooper, walked across the stage to get her diploma from South Florence High School on June 2.
“I am a proud mom,” said Cooper “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’.”
Florence Police Chief Anson Shells said people attending the ceremony were warned that if they did not behave during commencement ceremonies they would be escorted out.
“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,” Shells told msnbc.com. “That was the rule.”
Cooper said police arrested her as she made her way down the stairs and onto the auditorium’s main floor and walked her across the Florence Civic Center, where the ceremony was held, in full view of everyone in attendance.
“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 said. “The whole time I was thinking in my mind ‘Are you all serious? You for real?’ I didn’t say anything. I was shocked.”
Cooper was charged with disorderly conduct and booked in Florence County Detention Center, where she stayed for several hours until posting a $225 bond, according to WPDE-TV, an ABC affiliate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. “I didn’t do any more than the others did. Which I feel like no one should have gone to jail,” she said.
Cooper’s daughter told WPDE-TV she didn’t know what had happened to her mom until her friends filled her in. ”They’re locking your momma up for cheering — and I was like that isn’t right because other people were cheering and they didn’t lock them up,” she said.
Shells told msnbc.com two others were arrested during the commencement service.
“They were disruptive enough that officers felt they had to be removed and that they had violated the law,” Shells said.
Shells said 30 officers were stationed at the convention center that evening to monitor a crowd of 9,000 people.
“According to the report, she was disruptive during the ceremony and ceremonies are considered solemn occasions,” Shells said. “Everybody wants to hear their child’s name called and everyone was asked to be respectful and to be quiet.”
Cooper said the family celebrated her daughter’s special day on Sunday with a barbecue. She said she wants to put the day behind her, but finds it difficult at the moment.
Said Cooper: “Disorderly conduct? What’s the disorderly conduct? How was I so disorderly you know any different from just a happy parent? It was a lot of hard work to get my baby to this point, you know? I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to shout out my joy.”
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