Posted on October 3, 2019

Reporter Behind False Dreadlock Story Promoted Family’s Beauty Products Before Viral Hate Crime Allegation

Luke Rosiak, Daily Caller, October 2, 2019

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 {snip}.

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.


Turner ran two segments with Amari and her family on Sept. 29. In the first, she questioned why the school had not finished its investigation and punished the students.

“You found out on Wednesday and notified the school almost immediately. They told you they’re not going to notify you about disciplinary action until Monday. How do you feel about having to wait that long?” she said.

“Devastated,” Cynthia replied.

In the next segment, four people with “locs” from Richmond, Virginia — where Allen’s extended family lives — appeared on set to give Amari presents, while Turner put her arm around her.

Facebook posts reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation show that Lakeisha is involved in the “natural hair” movement. She comments about doing others’ dreadlocks and advises that “your going to look Amazing with micro braids!!!” Cynthia also comments about dreadlocks on Facebook, commenting on one man’s picture, “your hair is beautiful.”


WUSA then deleted all articles and video about the story. {snip}

WUSA omitted the names of both the Amari and her grandparents from that story, despite the family having embarked on a national media tour to promote the allegations. “Due to the girl’s age and the circumstances, WUSA9 is no longer using the identity of her or her family,” it said.


Station manager Michael Valentine did not explain to the DCNF why it would heavily promote the identity of a family when they were accusing others of racism, but conceal their identities when the story became them falsely accusing others.


Sgt. James Curry said he could not provide information on whether the Allens would be charged with filing a false police report or why or why not.

“I can’t provide any comment on this particular case, but it would be a case by case situation” to determine whether someone faces criminal charges for lying to police, he said, adding “typically we’d present it to” prosecutors to evaluate.