Who Is Tommia Dean? Kennesaw State Cheerleader Sues School Over Anthem Protests

UPDATE (Sept. 19, 2018): Tommia Dean appeared on the morning talk show “The View” on Sept. 19, 2018 to discuss her experiences following the controversial protest and leading into her lawsuit against Kennesaw State University.

“It’s easy to take the path of least resistance, but it takes guts to stand alone and walk the path of real resistance!” one viewer said about her appearance. “There’s some of us who would love to cheer for you!”


Four of the five Kennesaw State University cheerleaders who knelt to protest police brutality and racial inequality during the national anthem last college football season decided against returning to the squad. And one, Tommia Dean, has filed a lawsuit against the school.

The university announced that the cheerleading squad would be removed from the field prior to kickoff following the first round of protests, but the decision was ultimately reversed.

But that didn’t stop Dean from accusing two elected officials, Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, of conspiring to keep the cheerleaders off of the field in order to stop the protests.

“Ehrhart and Warren used their power and influence to create a threatening atmosphere for any groups daring to exercise the privileges and immunities guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” it read, via the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

The University System of Georgia had previously ruled that the decision by Kennesaw State officials to outlaw protests violated free speech laws protected by the Constitution.

“By prohibiting the cheerleaders, including Plaintiff Dean, from taking the field and kneeling during the national anthem, Defendant Olens, Whitlock and Griffin in conspiracy under the pretext of improving the fan experience and acting under color of state law, violated Plaintiff Dean’s clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person and government official would have known,” the complaint continued

Ehrhart’s attorney maintains that the attempt to stop the protests had nothing to do with racial bias against the cheerleaders.

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Kennesaw State University is facing a new lawsuit from a former cheerleader who said that she was punished for protesting the National Anthem amid the ongoing debate over NFL players kneeling on the field. Tommia Dean, a sophomore, alleged that officials conspired to keep her and other cheerleaders off the field after they knelt during the anthem last September. She is now suing university and state officials with claims of civil rights violations. Officials named in the claim are Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs,) Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren, former KSU President Sam Olens and Senior Associate Athletic Directors Matt Griffin and Scott Whitlock. Olens allegedly pressured other officials to keep the cheerleaders off the field before they were allowed to perform again, the lawsuit said. The charges don’t stop there: Ehrhart and Warren “engaged in the conspiracy against Plaintiff [Dean] because of her race and because she was protesting police brutality against African-Americans,” the complaint also said. The experience has been a painful one for Dean, according to the filing. The student has suffered from migraine headaches and emotional distress. She filed the complaint seeking monetary damages over “the violation of her constitutional rights.” Dean’s lawsuit comes as talks between the NFL and the Players Union continue to resolve the league’s proposed anthem rule. The league is reportedly expected not to have an anthem rule in place this football season as players from the Miami Dolphins and other teams continue to protest during games. #N4TC #News4TheCulture #Urban #ForTheCulture #ForThePeople #Diaspora #Black #African #AfricanAmerican #Melanin #BlackNews #BlackSports #BlackEducation #TommiaDean #Kennesaw #Cheerleader #Cheerleading #Kaepernick #NationalAnthemProtest #NFL

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