Georgia College Pays Out $145,000 to Settle Anthem Protest Case

According to Marietta Daily Journal, “a former Kennesaw State University cheerleader who took a knee during the national anthem at a KSU football game has been paid $145,000 in a subsequent out-of-court settlement, documents show.”

Kennesaw State University’s decision to remove its cheerleaders from the field after they protested police brutality during the national anthem has cost Georgia taxpayers $145,000 in a legal settlement.

Former KSU cheerleader Tommia Dean filed suit in 2018 after a backlash to her public protest with other cheerleaders during the national anthem at a KSU football game in 2017.

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. But her lawsuit was negated when Dean settled with the Georgia Department of Administrative Services for $145,000.  Tommia Dean will get $93,000 of the award, with the rest going to her attorneys, The Marietta Daily Journal reported after obtaining the settlement through an Open Records Act request.

Dean and four other cheerleaders took a knee before a football game in 2017 to protest police brutality. The school responded by ordering the cheerleaders to stay out of view before several subsequent games began. They were allowed back onto the field during the anthem when the University System of Georgia determined their protests were protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Her lawsuit claimed Olens was pressured to punish the cheerleaders by Cobb Sheriff Neal Warren, among others. A federal judge dropped Warren as a defendant, finding no evidence of racial animus. The newspaper reported that Dean’s lawyer said recently that they’re appealing Warren’s dismissal.

Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and former state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, were also defendants in Dean’s lawsuit, but were not part of the settlement with the state department.

She claimed Warren and Ehrhart were racially motivated in their complaints to Olens about the cheerleaders’ public protest, and that she had since suffered emotional stress.

In February, a federal judge dismissed Ehrhart and Warren as defendants in the case, finding no evidence they acted with racial animus.

Ehrhart had this to sayabout his dismissal in the case: “The courts and Judge Batten have thrown out the meritless, politically motivated lawsuit against me and justice has prevailed. My counsel crushed the political hack attorneys hired by the KSU cheerleader to perpetrate this fraud and character assassination.”

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Getty Images

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