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, The Sentinel, Kennesaw State University’s newspaper, reported. 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.