Local college cheerleader suing over national anthem protests

Some Kennesaw State University cheerleaders took a knee last season.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A Kennesaw State University student has filed a lawsuit accusing university and elected officials of violating her civil rights during a dispute over her decision and other cheerleaders to kneel during the national anthem at football games last year to protest police brutality and racial discrimination.

Tommia Dean, a sophomore, said in her complaint, filed Wednesday, that the officials conspired against the cheerleaders by keeping them off the field during the anthem after the first protest.

She accused two elected officials, Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, of attempting to stop the protests because of her race. Dean and the other cheerleaders who protested are African-American. Ehrhart and Warren are white.


The university later reversed itself and allowed the cheerleaders on the field during the anthem.

The other defendants in the lawsuit are former university President Sam Olens,and two athletic department officials, Matt Griffin and Scott Whitlock. Olens resigned in February amid complaints about how he handled the protests.

A KSU spokeswoman said the university does not comment on pending litigation.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution contributed to this report.