Some good may come of the arrests during local high school graduation ceremonies -- if the fallout discourages people from cheering at the ceremonies next year.
Eight people were arrested at Winthrop Coliseum on the weekend of June 6 and June 7. Six arrests occurred at Fort Mill High School's graduation; one was at Northwestern High School's graduation; and one was at the York Comprehensive High School graduation.
All were arrested by Rock Hill Police, taken from the coliseum and booked on charges of disorderly conduct. Charges recently were dismissed for seven of the eight charged. The eighth was involved in a serious auto accident weeks after his arrest, and he has been unable to appear in court.
The deal for dismissing charges required each defendant to offer a written apology for his or her behavior. Once they complied, the bonds they had posted to get out of jail were returned. They also can petition the York County solicitor's office to have their arrest records cleared.
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Despite the apologies, some of the defendants maintain that they had done nothing illegal and weren't warned beforehand that they risked being arrested if they cheered. Some said that they had expected to be escorted from the coliseum, but not handcuffed and taken to jail.
School authorities assert that they did tell the crowd before the ceremony that outbursts could lead to removal. However, no mention was made about the possibility of arrest.
That apparently was a factor in the decision to let the defendants off after they apologized. Without a trial, the question as to whether the defendants committed a criminal act was not decided and no legal precedent was set.
According to Rock Hill solicitor Chris Barton, that leaves it up to the schools to set the standards for graduation. He added, however, that "people clearly are on notice they are subject to ejection, and what might be more appropriate is a disturbing the schools charge."
We suspect that no one -- school authorities, members of the audience, even police -- relished the idea of arresting people for cheering. The punishment seemed too severe for the offense.
But if we can judge the consensus of the community from the dozens of letters on this issue received by The Herald, we must assume that people come down on the side of decorum and good manners. It's simple, really: Don't cheer until the end of the procession because someone else's name might be drowned out.
Some would say this incident was a tempest in a teapot. But it clearly struck a nerve not only with local residents but also those from other states who read accounts of the graduation arrests.
Perhaps next June we'll see a defiant few who will insist on cheering when their graduates cross the stage. We hope not.
We fervently hope those attending graduation ceremonies will kindly shut up until everyone has been recognized.
We hope the experience of eight defendants discourages cheering next year.