MEMPHIS, Tenn. – At least one woman was hauled out in handcuffs and another detained Tuesday after a brawl broke out at a high school graduation ceremony at a local church in Memphis.
Several videos of the incident inside Bellevue Baptist Church show two women attacking each other as Arlington High School graduates walked down the aisles at the beginning of the ceremony. Several folks attempted to quash the fight, and at least one woman was knocked to the ground, WMC reports.
The fight allegedly occurred over a saved seat at the commencement, and things quickly turned ugly.
In one video posted online, a woman is pestering a man who is recording the ceremony and he nudges her back, prompting the woman to shove him harder and another women with her to dump water on the man.
Another younger man attempted to intervene, telling the women to “back the f**k up” and pushing one of the women back. The other woman then briefly grabbed the young man by the hair.
Moments later, another woman came from behind the two women and said “don’t touch my f**king boy” and the two women viciously attack her, pulling her by the hair and slamming her head with their fists as others attempt to break up the melee.
Bellevue security officials eventually stepped in to break up the brawl and restrained at least one of the women in handcuffs.
Other videos posted of the incident show the women outside of the auditorium speaking with security, one of the women still in handcuffs seated on the ground.
Videos of the childish behavior circulated online afterwards, and parents were clearly not impressed with the antics.
“How embarrassing for the graduating students and in church of all places! A bolt of lightning from heaven would’ve broke that up. Stupid people, no respect,” Shelia Sipes posted to Facebook.
“I was there sitting behind the graduates and never even knew this happened until I saw it on the news later. Glad it didn’t disrupt the ceremony itself,” Susan White wrote.
The Commercial Appeal reports it’s unclear whether anyone was actually arrested or charged with a crime. The situation was handled by the church’s private security, and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to the fight.
School officials also issued a statement about the incident.
“Last night we celebrated 500 students who graduated from Arlington High School,” Tammy Mason, superintendent of the Arlington Community Schools, wrote in a statement Wednesday morning. “This year’s class earned over $30,600,000 in college scholarships. It was unfortunate that a couple of adults in the audience exhibited the behavior they did prior to the ceremony beginning and thus has caused a distraction from the celebration of our students’ accomplishments.”
“The graduation ceremony was not affected by this incident due to the actions of Bellevue’s security team who promptly removed the adults from the ceremony,” Mason wrote. “It is our hope that the focus will shift to our students and their accomplishments instead of the poor decisions by adults in attendance.”
Bellevue Baptist spokesman Jim Barnwell referred questions about the fight to the school district.
“We just provide the building,” he said.