Reporter Behind False Dreadlock Story Promoted Family's Beauty Products Before Viral Hate Crime AllegationLuke Rosiak
The Daily Caller
Oct. 04, 2019
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The local reporter who first pushed the hoax that white boys pinned down a 12-year-old black girl and cut off her dreadlocks advocated for laws protecting the hairstyle hours before the supposed attack.
The reporter also used the claims by the Virginia girl's family -- which runs a "natural" cosmetics company that the reporter has previously promoted on air -- as justification for the laws.
Amari Allen told her family on Sept. 25 that three white boys had held her down on the playground and called her hair "nappy." Allen also said the boys called her "ugly" and an "attention-seeker."
Earlier that day, WUSA-9 reporter Mikea Turner tweeted five times about the "Crown Act" or "natural hair bill," overtly advocating that local jurisdictions pass it.
"Thank you for being a trailblazer," she told a politician who introduced a bill in Montgomery County, Maryland. "I hope [Prince George's County, Maryland] is next! ... It's sad that laws like this have to exist for people to just be themselves."
The family was filming with Turner the next day. That led to coverage across the country, including in The New York Times.
Turner co-authored a Sept. 26 story online with the headline: "Sixth-grade boys pin down classmate, cut her dreadlocks calling them 'ugly' and 'nappy' at Virginia private school."
"This why we need the #CrownAct to protect little girls like Amari Allen," Turner tweeted on Sept. 27.
The "Crown Act," as introduced in various jurisdictions, is designed to protect "natural hair," or dreadlocks, from discrimination. Advocates sometimes call the hairstyle a "crown."
The Allen family -- grandparents Cynthia and Dewaune and aunt Lakeisha Allen -- run a beauty company called "Still Natural," and for years on Facebook, Lakeisha (who goes by the name Zyonn on the online platform) has posted pictures of herself and other people with dreadlocks, mentioning "natural."
Turner promoted the Allens' cosmetic line in a September 2018 news segment and an accompanying article headlined "Domestic violence survivor develops cosmetic line to inspire others." The playground assault articles did not mention an existing relationship between the reporter and the subject.
Three boys cut Amari's deadlocks on Sept. 23 but she did not tell anyone what happened until Sept. 25, according to the story. The Washington Post reported that that came after Lakeisha questioned her about why her hair was different.
"I hate that we had to tell you about it just days after I got real about hair discrimination," WUSA anchor Lesli Foster said, adding that the boys should be "ashamed ... for the rest of their lives."
Following her Sept. 26 story, Turner tweeted relentlessly about the supposed attack and even helped collect gifts for the girl. She said she was scheduled to be off work but came in anyway to pursue Amari's case.
WUSA ran stories about the alleged schoolyard bullying incident on Sept. 26, 27, 28 and 29.
Apparel such as T-shirts saying "Justice For Amari" was quickly made up, and Lakeisha promoted them, saying "JUSTICE FOR AMARI!"