Hosts of “The View” welcomed special guest Tommia Dean to the roundtable Wednesday to discuss the series of events that followed her decision to take a knee in protest during performances of the national anthem.
Dean was one of five Kennesaw State University football cheerleaders who knelt in the end zone of Fifth Third Bank Stadium last fall to protest police brutality, sparking outrage at the metro Atlanta university. The on-field protests soon made national headlines, and the school did damage control by briefly removing the young women from the field.
Dean is now suing the university for violating her civil rights.
When asked why she decided to kneel, the sophomore cited “the many killings and many attacks against minorities by police officers. I thought it was crazy to have that many [killings]. I didn’t think it was right for minorities to have to walk around and be terrified every day.”
“It’s a burden to have walk to around and be scared all the time,” she added.
Co-host Whoopi Goldberg then asked about the university’s response to the protest and how it has handled the backlash. Dean explained that their story didn’t take off until Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren penned an op-ed in the local paper calling her and her friends “un-American” and a disgrace for kneeling. Text messages later revealed that Warren and Georgia state Rep. Earl Ehrhart had pressured then-KSU President Sam Olens to keep the cheerleaders off the field during the anthem.
Co-host Joy Behar pointed out that all five cheerleaders hoped to return to the squad this year, however, only one of them made the cut. Dean said she believes their participation in the protest had something to do with it.
Newcomer Abby Huntsman, who’s been a vocal critic of the anthem protests, noted that both she and Dean come from military families, and asked how Americans could better understand one another on the issue.
“I think we need to have respect for both sides,” Dean began. “We need to at least respect one another. … I never want to come across as disrespectful to the military, that’s not what this protest is about.”
“It’s honorable what people do in the military,” she added. “They’re fighting for us to be able to protest this type of stuff.”
Not everyone was ready to hear what Dean had to say, however, and slammed “The View” for even bringing her on.
“I can’t believe you actually had a cheerleader who didn’t make the squad a guest on your show,” one Twitter critic wrote. “Do you realize how many girls everyday across this country are discriminated against regarding cheerleading squads, but this case was a big deal? I hate this show.”
“Oh you saw all those killings??? No you didn’t ,you did it because other Black people did it,” another critic opined. “More white people are killed every year than Blacks. You don’t see us being disrespectful to the NATIONAL ANTHEM!”
Watch more in the video below.
*Editor’s note: Tanasia Kenney is an alumna of Kennesaw State University.