A Baltimore family just filed a $25 million lawsuit against Sesame Place, a theme park in Pennsylvania, claiming their daughters were the targets of racial discrimination after being ignored by characters in costume.
The filing comes not long after a video of a Sesame Place employee dressed as Rosita seemingly ignoring two black girls during a parade went viral online, sparking nationwide outrage and accusations of racism. Social media was flooded with examples of similar incidents that allegedly took place at the amusement park, which only helped fuel the fury.
Per Daily Mail, the suit seeks class action status as 25-30 families have come forward with similar claims. It was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia against SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, the owner of Sesame Place, alleging “pervasive and appalling race discrimination.”
The lawsuit claims that four amusement park employees dressed as Sesame Street characters intentionally ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns, and other black guests during a meet-and-greet event on June 18. The family insists the employees’ behavior was an example of racism.
The lawsuit says “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”
“Just looking at her face, it makes me want to cry every time I see it,” Burns said of his daughter during a press conference on Wednesday.
“[Kennedi] was ignored amongst a sea of other young white children who were able to interact, give hugs, high fives,” attorney Malcolm Ruff said during the press conference. “Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of 5. This is unacceptable and we will not stand by and let this continue.”
“We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns. We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests,” Sesame Street reps replied to the filing in a statement to Eyewitness News.
Reps for the amusement park apologized multiple times for the viral video of the two little girls appearing to be ignored, The Daily Wire previously reported, but their apologies were not enough to assuage skeptics.
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok. We are taking actions to do better. We are committed to making this right. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience for our guests,” a statement at the time said.
“For over 40 years Sesame Place has worked to uphold the values of respect, inclusion and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks.”
Per Daily Mail, the mother of the two girls from the video, Jodi Brown, didn’t believe the company was being sincere.
“I don’t believe it was genuine, I believe they were just putting out statements due to how viral the video has gone,” Brown said.