A man who ran onstage and disrupted Monday’s Commencement ceremony was charged with breach of peace in the second degree, trespassing in the first degree and interfering with a police officer, according to University spokesman Tom Conroy.
The man, Mathew Cherakal, 35, of Portland, Connecticut, was arrested and booked at the New Haven Police Department, Conroy said. Cherakal is known to local police and is not believed to be part of any protest group, according to Conroy.
Cherakal was dragged offstage by police officers just moments after taking the microphone from University Chaplain Sharon Kugler at Monday morning’s ceremony.
“I love Yale as much as anyone who has never gone here possibly could,” he said to a crowd of tens of thousands before being whisked offstage and out of Old Campus.
But less than two hours later, Cherakal disrupted two other Yale graduation ceremonies, at Branford College and at the School of Public Health. At Branford, he grabbed the microphone from incoming Branford Head of College Enrique de la Cruz at the college’s diploma ceremony.
Darby Mowell ’18, who attended Branford’s diploma ceremony, was one of several students who recognized the man as the same person who disrupted Commencement exercises on Old Campus. Mowell said Cherakal interrupted the ceremony as de la Cruz was announcing individual degrees. He began speaking quickly and unintelligibly once he took the microphone, she said.
“He just started yelling really quickly and unintelligibly like an auctioneer, and at first the new head tried to stop him, but after a while he just relinquished it with a sort of resigned look on his face,” Mowell said.
When a Yale Security officer tried to remove the man, Mowell said he “clung to the podium” and the microphone in a “tug-of-war. Many audience members were shocked by the outburst, Mowell said.
Tom McCoy ’17 described the scene as confusing and said he could not tell what Cherakal said onstage. Julia Menzel ’17 said the man is a New Haven resident who has disrupted classes and events held by the Yale Political Union previously. Menzel also said Cherakal did not say anything coherent before being seized by parents and security.
Editor’s note: This article have been updated to reflect a legal name change.