By Bill Kirk
---- — LAWRENCE — Two men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after breaking out into dance moves when police tried to disperse a large crowd of people on the grounds of the South Lawrence East School Thursday.
But the bigger crime may be bad dancing since, according to the police report, the officers could not distinguish whether they were doing the “Harlem Shake” or dancing the “Dougie.”
It all went down Thursday about 3:10 p.m., when Patrolman Radames Gonzalez responded to the neighborhood near the Stadium public housing project on North Parish Road for a report a disturbance involving a large crowd of teens preparing to fight. Upon arrival, he reported “50 to 60 kids grouped together walking through the Lawrence Housing Authority property” and headed to the school.
Gonzalez and police Capt. Michael Driscoll exchanged words with some of those in the crowd, and ordered the group to disperse.
“I announced my presence on the public announcement system to disperse or we would have to begin arresting people,” Gonzalez wrote in his report. “It was at this moment I observed Shamal Nelson and Demarius Mckeithen begin to dance in the middle of the street with a dance I interpreted as the ‘Dougie’ or ‘Harlem Shake.’”
The crowd behind dancers Nelson, 20, of 46 Whitman St., and Mckeithen, 19, of 174 Berkeley St., began “to chant and cheer at their nonsensical behavior,” causing traffic to stop in the area, Gonzalez reported. Officers then arrested the dancing duo, charging both with disorderly conduct. Also arrested was Andre Thomas, 17, of 67 Jamaica St., who police said tried to block Gonzalez from arresting Nelson. He too was charged with disorderly conduct.
“The Harlem Shake” is a hit pop song made even more popular by its video, which thousands have emulated and posted on the social networking site YouTube. It starts with one person dancing, usually masked, and then a crowd erupts in crazy, haphazard dance moves behind the leader.
The “Dougie,” comes from an older pop song titled “Teach Me How to Dougie.” The Dougie is more of an individual dance that involves stepping side to side and swaying the hips and shoulders in a semi-circular motion.
Prior to breaking out in dance, officers said people in the crowd were shouting expletives and “it’s a free country.” At one point, according to Gonzalez’s report, Driscoll exchanged words with one of the people in the crowd, later identified as Nelson, who said, “I ain’t afraid of no cops.”
None of the suspects could be reached for comment.
The crowd dispersed quickly after the arrests.