Things That Matter

Cheerleader Wins $145,000 Settlement After She Was Booted From Team For Taking A Knee

Back in 2016, American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick made waves and history when he protested against racial injustice and systematic oppression. During the United States national anthem, the star football player took a stand against the injustices by taking a knee. The act of protest set off a wave of similar acts with athletes from other sports including soccer, baseball, basketball and ice hockey taking similar actions. The acts of protest have not only sparked debate about using sporting events to highlight social issues they’ve also sparked talks about patriotism and respect. Moreover, they’ve also caused lawsuits.

College cheerleader, Tommia Dean, recently received a $145,000 payout after she was punished for her silent protest back in 2017.

The now 21-year old had been a cheerleader for Kennesaw State University, Georgia and had been inspired by  Kaepernick’s similar protests and decided to take a new during a game. In response to her protest, her university banned Dean and four other cheerleaders, known in the media as the ‘Kennesaw Five,’ from the football field during the Star-Spangled Banner for the next two games.

Dean hit back at the college who has recently been ordered to pay her $145,000. The school was found to have violated her right to protest. For the payout, the Georgia Department of Administrative Services will have to write Dean a check for $93,000 and another one to her attorneys for $52,000.

According to Marietta Daily Journal, “Dean listed KSU’s then-President Sam Olens as a defendant in the civil suit, alongside Scott Whitlock and Matt Griffin who worked for the KSU athletics department at the time.”

The agreement, which was signed by Dean and representative of the Georgia state department says that “a compromise has been reached… The intent of this agreement is to buy peace of mind from future controversy and forestall further attorney’s fees, costs, or other expenses of litigation, and further that this agreement represents the compromise, economic resolution of disputed claims and, as such, shall not be deemed in any manner an admission, finding, conclusion, evidence or indication for any purposes whatsoever, that the KSU defendants acted contrary to the law or otherwise violated the rights of Dean.”

In her lawsuit, Dean accused her school of violating her rights.

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Speaking about her decision to protest, Dean told WXIA-TV in Atlanta that at the time, she had felt moved to take action through protest. “Before we went out on the field, we all prayed. Together, we all prayed. I felt like this was something I needed to do here, in Cobb County, as a Kennesaw State cheerleader.”

The issue escalated when the local sheriff publicly slammed the cheerleaders for their act of protest. Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said at the time that t his wife cried when she first saw the protest. “We were both shocked to see such a lack of respect for our flag, our national anthem and the men and women that serve our nation, Neil Warren wrote in an opinion piece published by Marietta Daily Journal.  Dean claimed in her lawsuit that Warren and former state Rep. Earl Ehrhart were racially motivated in making sure that the school kept her and the other four cheerleaders from taking part in national anthem protests.

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The Father And Son Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Don’t Want Him To Be Called A “Victim” In Upcoming Court Case

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The Father And Son Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Don’t Want Him To Be Called A “Victim” In Upcoming Court Case

Sean Rayford / Getty Images

The men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery have some outrageous requests for their upcoming murder trial that really show just how far many will go protect white supremacy.

Despite their being video evidence of them chasing and shooting Arbery, the father and son are requesting that Arbery never be referred to as a victim. What the actual f***?!

Arbery’s killers are asking a judge to prohibit referring to Arbery as a “victim.”

The men responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s death have a litany of requests for their upcoming murder trial – notably, they don’t want the word “victim” uttered in court while referring to the man they murdered.

Defense attorneys for Travis and Greg McMichael – the father and son who chased Arbery down with their truck and then proceeded to shoot and kill him in a struggle – have filed new motions in their trial. They want to prohibit the prosecution from ever referring to Arbery as a victim in front of the jury, because they say that’s a conclusion that can’t be reached before a verdict.

“The purpose of this motion is to prevent the prosecution from ignoring its duty to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were actually committed and that the McMichaels committed the crimes as charged,” states the four-page motion, signed by lawyers Franklin and Laura Hogue, Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield.

According to the motion, the McMichaels argue no crime has been committed – remember, they’ve pled not guilty and argued self-defense. As a result, they say “loaded words” like “victim” might prejudice jurors against them from the jump.

But there’s more: his killers are asking the judge to only allow one photo of Arbery.

Their unbelievable antics don’t stop with the word “victim.” Defense attorneys are also requesting that only one “in life” photograph be permitted at trial to depict Arbery – and that the photo show him alone without any family members or friends. Not just that, but the defense asks that no family member of his be able to identify him in court, they want that done by an unrelated, third party witness, if necessary.

The reason: they argue too many photos of Arbery will create an ingrained bias in the jury’s collective mind, and paint him as a sympathetic character. They say they don’t want his family involved in ID’ing either because of possible emotional outbursts, which may also affect the jurors. So in other words, the McMichaels want this as sterile as possible.

One last thing: the McMichaels have asked that Black Lives Matter face masks not be permitted in court, that any jail calls they’ve made be stricken as usable evidence, but that Ahmaud’s criminal record be admissible. Again, what the actual f***?!

Arbery’s murder made headlines over the summer as he was chased and gunned down while out on a jog.

Credit: Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Arbery was killed on 23 February last year in Brunswick, Georgia, while out jogging. Prosecutors allege that Gregory McMichael, 64, a retired police detective, and his son Travis, 34, chased Arbery in their truck and initiated a confrontation that ended with Travis McMichael shooting Arbery dead.

Arbery’s killing sparked outrage in the local community and nationally, particularly after it was revealed that local law enforcement initially refused to arrest the suspects and a prosecutor, who later recused himself, wrote a memorandum explaining why he believed the killing was legally justified.

The McMichaels told detectives they believed Arbery, a trained electrician, was responsible for a string of burglaries in their neighbourhood, and merely wanted to ask him about them. They were arrested more than two months after the shooting, when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.

A judge has yet to weigh in, and a trial date isn’t set.

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

Alexandre Meneghini / Getty Images

It seemed that many Cuban’s hopes for greater freedom of expression – particularly in the art world – seems to have been dashed again. In less than 24 hours after apparently agreeing to meet several demands from dissident artists, the government broke at least three of the five agreements in had made.

Freedom of expression is a hot topic in Cuba, where the communist regime severely limits what artists can say and produce.

But even more rare: public protest. That’s what makes these recent marches in Havana so important, the island hasn’t seen anything like it in decades. And as almost on script, the Cuban government flipped on its public reaction to the growing movement, instead blaming it on “U.S. imperialism” and foreign intervention.

Cuban officials have completely condemned the protest movement in a full 180º change of attitude.

Over the weekend, Cuba saw unprecedented protests led by dissident artists and creatives – known as the San Isidro movement – seeking greater freedom of expression. And although it seemed early on that the group may have made progress (the government agreed to several concessions), those hopes went up in flames as the government launched an all-out rhetorical assault.

Shortly after the meeting between protesters and officials, the protest came to a peaceful end with leaders thinking they achieved what they had set out to do, and with a meeting to discuss the issues further.

But just hours later the government called in the top U.S. diplomat on the island, charge de affairs Timothy Zúñiga-Brown, for a scolding over “grave interference in Cuba’s internal affairs” as state television ran a 90-minute special attacking members of the protest group and broadcasting visuals of their interactions with U.S. diplomats and Miami exiles.

“Sovereign Cuba accepts no interference … The revolutionary ones will fight back,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in one of a series of Twitter posts accusing the San Isidro movement of being a “reality show” on social media created by “U.S. imperialists.”

What originally seemed like progress now seems like business as usual for the communist regime.

Credit: Yamil Lapage / AFP / Getty Images

It seemed, at least for a few short hours, that there was a real chance at bolstering artistic freedom in Cuba. The group of protesters, known as the San Isidro movement, gathered outside the culture ministry, leading Fernando Rojas, the deputy culture minister, to invite in a group of 30 of them. The meeting lasted for more than four hours, those present have said, and resulted in a promise of greater freedoms for artists.

Writer Katherine Bisquet told the press afterward that there had been a “truce for independent spaces” where activists could meet and talk, and that further discussions were promised.

“I cannot emphasize enough that this kind of public protest, with hundreds of people standing outside a ministry for 14 hours, is unprecedented,” Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco told Artnet News. “The fact that government officials conceded to a meeting is in itself a victory for the artists and a sign of weakness on the part of the government.”

The government had also agreed to urgently review the case of a detained member of the San Isidro crew and a rapper sentenced this month to eight months in jail on charges of contempt. It also agreed to ensure independent artists in the future were not harassed.

Cuban officials blamed the U.S. for stirring up dissent.

Shortly after the government launched a verbal assault on the group, it also accused the U.S. of helping them. Officials at the Foreign Ministry summoned the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Chargé d’Affaires Timothy Zuñiga-Brown, and complained about U.S. “intervention.”

At Sunday’s rally, Díaz Canel said that “Trumpistas” (referring to the Trump administration) and the “anti-Cuban mafia that are now ‘Trumpistas'” (referring to Cuban American Trump supporters in Miami) “had on their agenda that before the year ends, the revolutions of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have to fall.”

Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, tweeted Sunday: “We support the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty and echo calls for the Cuban government to release peaceful protestors. The Cuban people must be allowed to exercise the universal right to freedom of expression.”

Thanks to an imploding economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Cuba is experiencing an unprecedented crisis.

Credit: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images

Cuba is going through dire shortages in food and basic goods amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has practically halted tourism to the island, on top of the Trump administration’s harsh sanctions.

Against that backdrop, García said, “I think the government should think about these things and view dialogue as a valid option to avoid a major disaster.”

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