Brawl breaks out at high school graduation ceremony

ARLINGTON, TN (WATN) – Caught on cell phone video, a fight between families at a Tennessee graduation Tuesday night went viral and drew national attention. The nearly one-minute long video captures shoves, punches, even hair pulling at Arlington High School’s graduation at Bellevue Baptist in Cordova.

The fight between several adults went down as teenagers filed into their seats and walked past. The man who recorded the brawl said an argument over saved seats led to punches, yelling, and chaos.

In the video, a man shoves the woman in a brown dress. That woman shoves the man back, another throws water, and then things escalate. Several more shoves ensue between the two groups sharing the same pew.

The profanity-laced video rolls on, as attempted punches are thrown and others try to separate the two sides as women begin fighting and then tussling on chairs.

Things don’t slow down as the woman in the brown dress continues her aggression.

She’s seen pulling another woman’s hair and landing several punches before being separated.

All this happening during the Arlington High School graduation procession.

“I’m sitting here going, is this really happening right now, in a church,” says Octavius Adams, who recorded the fight video.

Octavius Adams rolled on the rumble, and posted it to Facebook Tuesday night, before he says the social media site took it down Wednesday.

“I think it was important because most people have general idea that things like that only happen in certain areas. They think it only happens towards a certain race, but my thing is human behavior is human behavior, it’s not race behavior,” says Adams.

In a statement, an Arlington Community Schools spokesperson said:

Last night we celebrated 500 students who graduated from Arlington High School. 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. It is our hope that the focus will shift to our students and their accomplishments instead of the poor decisions by adults in attendance.  Congratulations to our 2017 graduates of Arlington High School.

Memphis Police and Shelby County Sheriff’s spokespersons said neither agency were called in to assist, no one filed a report, and no one was arrested.

We did see another posted video of the woman in the brown dress handcuffed by security outside the sanctuary. Local 24 asked law enforcement if the video evidence of punches thrown inside this church could lead to any charges, but we have yet to hear back. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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