Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump joins family in calling for action amid racism allegations at Sesame Place
The group discussed the incident outside Jay-Z’s Roc Nation social justice summit in Manhattan on Saturday and issued a call to action for those outraged by the incident.
“We blame the community, activists, organizations and people across the country who truly believe in freedom and justice for all of us – what are you prepared to do?” said family attorney B’Ivory LaMarr. “Are you finally ready to engage on these issues?”
It comes after a nine-second video, posted to Instagram on July 16 by Jodi Brown, the mother of one of the girls, showed Rosita’s character clapping a white child and woman, then making a gesture ‘no’ and walking away from the two girls who had their arms outstretched for a hug and a high-five during the parade at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
“This character may have ignored them, but we will never ignore our black children. They have every right to enjoy the full consideration and respect of any other child,” Crump said.
During an interview with Action News on Saturday, Cathy Valeriano, president and CEO of Sesame Place, said the park was reviewing its internal practices, both immediate and long-term.
“As an organization we are heartbroken that these girls went through this and it is up to us,” she said.
Valeriano said Rosita’s costume performer hasn’t worked since July 16.
LaMarr said he disputes the park’s response.
“It doesn’t take three statements in five days to recognize racism,” he said.
“We could have been more thoughtful in our initial statement and we own it,” Valeriano said.
The Congressional Black Caucus is now requesting a meeting with Valeriano to discuss the changes, action plans and training the park plans to implement.
“We are open for a reunion if we need to have a reunion. Absolutely, I understand emotions are raw, but it’s something we have to learn internally and grow from what we’re not going to. not settle overnight,” Valeriano said.
On Saturday afternoon, the Middletown Township Police Department said police were on site at the park with a high degree of caution in response to a planned protest. Police said they were told protesters would block roads and close Sesame Place.
Two men were arrested and charged with the summary offenses of obstructing roads and disorderly conduct.
Both received summary citations and were published. After the arrest of the two men, the demonstration continued without incident for several hours in peace.
SEE ALSO: New video shows a different angle on the Sesame Place incident
Earlier this week, Brown was joined by LaMarr at a press conference outside Sesame Workshop in New York.
Despite the park’s apology, Brown says she’s unconvinced as the backlash over the incident continues to grow.
The family of the two little girls asks Place Sésame to do more to redeem themselves.
Lamarr said they don’t want to sue the business, it’s not about the money, it’s about getting it right – and that hasn’t happened yet.
“You’ve been telling these kids for years, ‘Come play, it’s okay, friendly neighbors over there, that’s where we meet, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?'” he declared. “And once these kids figure out how to get to Sesame Street…they reach out with open arms to these friendly neighbors, what for? Get kicked out? Get kicked out? And leave your lower park?”
LaMarr said he has more documentation on the incident and may release it depending on Sesame Place’s further actions.
“We have information that we have – we are going to give this company they had less than 12 hours to provide information with a very sincere and genuine apology – or we are going to release evidence showing exactly what happened in in addition to the video you’ve already seen,” LaMarr said.
SEE ALSO: Family demands Sesame Place do more amid racism allegations, want worker fired
LaMarr said the evidence refers to family comments that after passing the two girls, Rosita’s character continued to hug a white child.
In an initial statement, Sesame Place said the park and its employees stand for “inclusion and equality in all forms.” The statement also noted that performers sometimes miss hug requests because the costumes they wear make it difficult to see at lower levels.
“Rosita’s interpreter did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” the statement read.
However, many people expressed their outrage online and some called for a boycott of the amusement park.
The park released a second statement on Monday, again apologizing and promising it was “taking steps to do better.” Among these efforts would be inclusiveness training for employees.
In a new statement released Saturday, Sesame Place said they were “taking action.”
“We are taking action and reviewing our practices to identify the changes needed, both immediate and long term. We are introducing mandatory training for all our employees to better recognize, understand and deliver an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience. experience for all our customers. We have engaged with nationally recognized experts in this field.”
The family said they showed the video at Sesame Place right after it happened, saying the character didn’t behave that way towards the white kids there.
“This mom tried to fix that immediately,” Lamarr said. “It wasn’t about the publicity. It wasn’t about the money. She immediately went to the park management. She showed them the same video as millions of people across the country and in the world have seen. Sesame Place had the opportunity to see this video at that time. They chose to reject it. They chose to reject this family.
Brown said employees told him there was no supervisor available at the park at the time.
The company also invited the family back to the park, promising a better experience, but their lawyer said they weren’t ready to accept that.
“I just feel like the apology wasn’t sincere, and I believe the apology is now being offered because it caused so much uproar,” Brown said. “I want them to be able to do the right thing given that me, my niece and my daughter have all suffered from embarrassment (and) discriminatory behavior.”
Lamarr said they want the person in Rosita’s costume fired and he also wants the park to pay for the mental health costs the children will need as a result of the incident.
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