Racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Sesame Place Philadelphia – NBC10 Philadelphia

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Following a high-profile case of alleged racial discrimination against two black girls, SeaWorld is being sued for other alleged cases of “pervasive and appalling” discrimination against children at Sesame Place Philadelphia.

The plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are Baltimore, Maryland, residents Quinton Burns and her 5-year-old daughter, who allege four entertainers refused to engage with the girl and other black children during a meeting last month . The performers “easily” engaged with “many” white children, according to the costume.

“Racism is horrible when perpetrated against adults, but it’s in a separate category of horror when it’s perpetrated against children who can’t fight back and have to struggle to understand how ugly it is. and how it must be eliminated from every aspect of American life,” William Murphy, one of the Burns family lawyers, said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs are seeking at least $25 million in damages from SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment – ​​which owns Sesame Place – on behalf of all black people who have visited Sesame Place since July 27, 2018 and “experienced disparate treatment” from SeaWorld employees who ignored black children. “while interacting with white children in the same situation.”

They’re asking for a jury trial.

The lawsuit says that on or around June 18, Burns purchased two tickets to the theme park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which allowed him and his daughter to meet and greet each other. . They tried to participate in a meet-and-greet, but the performers — dressed as Elmo, Ernie, Telly Monster and Abby Cadabby — ignored them and other black children while interacting with white children, the lawsuit claims.

“SeaWorld breached its contracts with the Burns and the band members when, solely on the basis of their race or color, and by and through its agents and/or employees, it publicly and discriminatoryly denied plaintiffs the opportunity to enjoy the experience of meeting and greeting Sesame. Street costume character performers as promised,” according to the costume.

The lawsuit also says SeaWorld knew the performers harbored racial bias against black people.

The Burns filed suit after seeing a viral video of another incident of alleged discrimination that happened to a New York family. This video showed an artist dressed as Rosita’s character seemingly ignoring two young black girls while reaching out to another girl – who the family’s attorney said was white – and giving her a hug.

The family’s attorney, B’Ivory LaMarr, called the incident a “racist act.” The girls’ mother and aunt called for the artist to be fired, but she said she preferred to avoid a trial. LaMarr said Sesame Place should cover all mental health expenses for the girls, who he says now face “severe emotional distress”.

Sesame Place initially stated that the performer’s costume may have made it difficult to see the girls and that the “no” gesture made by the character in the first video was not specifically aimed at the couple. The gesture, the park said, was made in “response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold her child for a photo that is not permitted.”

Asked to comment on the new video on July 22, the theme park pointed NBC10 to a statement saying it “wholeheartedly” apologized to the family and that what the girls went through was “unacceptable” and “Contrary to our values, principles and purpose. ”

The park said it was reviewing its practices and instituting mandatory training for all employees to provide a “fair” and “inclusive” experience for customers.

Since then, other families have come forward to allege racism at Sesame Place Philadelphia. LaMarr said more than 150 families have contacted him and his law firm alleging similar conduct by park performers. The company has found many complaints to be unfounded, but continues to review them and speak to potential customers.

Meanwhile, Burns, the plaintiff from Maryland, said he was “hurt” and “devastated” by his daughter’s alleged treatment.

The lawsuit also seeks an order requiring SeaWorld to implement mandatory cultural sensitivity training for its employees.

“We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns,” Sesame Place said in response to the lawsuit on Wednesday. “We look forward to responding to this claim through the established legal process. We are committed to providing an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for all of our customers.”

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