Sunday night fray blamed on tequila

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, May 8, 2024

It was ocho on the cinco in Batesville Sunday night.

Eight citizens were arrested following a melee outside El Mariachi Bar and Grill. Cell phone videos of the disturbance have been widely circulated in North Mississippi and beyond, drawing comments about the brazen contempt shown for local law enforcement.

Of the hundred or more participants involved in scuffling with police, or dancing to loud music and recording videos, four men and four women were eventually detained and booked at the Panola County jail.

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Charges for the eight people, ages 19 to 25, ranged from disorderly conduct to public drunkenness and disturbance of the peace. Two of the men were also charged with possession of concealed weapons.

All of the disorderly conduct charges fell under the “failure to comply” portion of the statute, defined simply as not following the orders of a law enforcement officer.

In the videos, Batesville Police officers can be seen working to control the crowd even as bystanders were impeding their efforts, some performing the popular “twerking” dance – a form of body expression that involves protruding and shaking one’s backside in rapid gyrations, often to the rhythm of music from the rap and hip hop genres, and some country.

Deputy Chief of Police Barry Thompson on Monday praised the department’s patrolmen and officers who responded to the large and raucous gathering. Word of the situation spread quickly and many of the city’s residents thought a problem had occurred at Piggly Wiggly, one of the most public places in the city.

Thompson said officers could have arrested and charged many more people, but used restraint, and cleared the scene in a timely manner. 

Sunday was the celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican Independence Day that Americans have embraced. El Mariachi, like most Mexican restaurants, had advertised specials for Cinco de Mayo – including those for alcoholic drinks, mainly tequila.

“Some people decided to celebrate a little too much and it spilled out of the restaurant,” Thompson said. “It could have been a bad situation that was avoided with a good police response.”

The county jail log shows that BPD officers began the booking process about 8:30 p.m. Sunday and it continued for more than an hour. In the bustle of eight intakes almost at once, one woman was actually booked twice, but the error was discovered and one of her entries is now crossed through.

All of the Cinco de Mayo celebrants will have upcoming appearances in Batesville Municipal Court. Seven are locals, and one has an Oxford address.