Criminal Charges Against Black Family That Cheered at Graduation are Dropped

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 10, 2015

Jay Foster, the white Senatobia, Mississippi, school superintendent who had arrest warrants served to four black audience members for cheering at a high school graduation on May 21 has reportedly withdrawn his complaint.

“We felt like at this point that we had accomplished our goal, which was, if you disrupt the ceremony, not only could you be escorted out, but you could face possible charges. It’s really nothing more than a ticket, but it could cost you,” Foster said on Monday, June 8. 

Foster had warned attendees that if they didn’t hold their cheers and applause until all students’ names had been called that they might be asked to leave. But the warrants came as a surprise, said Ursula Miller, who was charged for cheering for her niece. “I understood as a consequence I was going to be escorted out of the graduation, but no one told me there were going to be criminal charges against me,” she told The Associated Press. Miller and other family members faced $500 fines and up to six months in prison for their alleged misdemeanors. But Miller doesn’t regret cheering. “That’s what we do in our family, is we celebrate this occasion. She deserved that cheer and I would do it again.”

If Foster had pursued the charge of disorderly conduct, the revelers—at least two of whom are black—could have faced up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. But it may not be over.

Linda Walker, whose son Henry was charged for shouting, “You did it, baby,” when his younger sister walked across the stage, shared that she has spoken with a lawyer. She said that the dropped charge “saves me some time, but it’s going to cost them some money. I’m not done with him. He done got my baby’s name all over the world. We’re not done.”