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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