Attorney in Sesame Place snub says new video disputes park’s claims
The attorney for a New York woman who filmed a viral video of a Sesame Place character waving away her 6-year-old daughter and niece, who are Black, claims other Black families have reached out to his law office with similar complaints of poor treatment during visits.
A spokeswoman for attorney B’Ivory LaMarr also said Thursday that a new video would be released Friday of the July 17 incident at the Middletown theme park that refutes park officials’ claims the snub was a misunderstanding.
The additional video was provided by a witness who released the video to LaMarr after his client Jodi Brown’s original, 9-second video went viral on social media this week amid allegations of racism, spokeswoman Tanya Wiley said.
At a press conference Wednesday, LaMarr claimed he had a video that contradicted Sesame Place’s version of what happened with the “Rosita” character.
Wiley added that “multiple families” with similar negative experiences with character performers have reached out to the law office since Brown posted her original video on Twitter and Instagram, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands times and received support on social media from former “Destiny’s Child” singer Kelly Rowland.
Wiley did not provide additional information about other complaints the office received.
Sesame Place Philadelphia, which runs the Bucks County theme park, has vehemently denied the allegations of racism in statements posed on social media. A spokeswoman for the park had no comment on the incident when reached on Thursday.
In its third statement since the controversy began released on Thursday evening, Sesame Place, again, apologized to the Brown family for their park experience and called it “unacceptable.”
“It happened in our park, with our team, and we own that,” the statement said. “It is our responsibility to make this better for the children and the family and to be better for all families.”
Park officials have been in contact with the family since Sunday morning and remains in contact through LaMarr, and they have offered to meet in-person with Brown and LaMarr as early as Thursday to “personally deliver an apology and acknowledgement that we are holding ourselves accountable for what happened,” the statement said.
“We want to listen to them to understand how the experience impacted their family and to understand what we can do better for them and all guests who visit our parks,” the statement said. “We are committed to learning all we can from this situation to make meaningful change. We want every child who comes to our park to feel included, seen and inspired.”
The park is also taking action and reviewing its practices to “identify necessary changes, both immediate and long-term,” including implementing mandatory bias training and contacting “nationally recognized” experts in the field, the statement said.
Sesame Place has received widespread backlash on social media for what some perceive an failure to take accountability for the incident in its initial public statement, where it attributed the oversight of the girls to the performer’s costume, claiming it can sometimes make it difficult to see guests at lower levels.
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Park officials also contend that the “no” hand gesture seen in Brown’s video was directed at someone in the crowd behind the girls who wanted the character to hold a child for a photo, according to the statement. Performers are not allowed to hold children.
Brown, who lives in Brooklyn, has called for the termination of the employee who snubbed the girls, and she has pledged to fight for other Black children whose families allege they have experienced the same rejection from characters at the park.
Brown’s video shows the two girls wearing pink and blue backpacks waiting eagerly as “Rosita” approaches during a park parade. The smaller of the girls, Brown’s niece, is seen with her arms outstretched for a hug. Her daughter is shown reaching out one hand as the character approaches them in line.
The character is seen exchanging high-fives with what appeared to be a white child and adult. Then, a few steps before reaching the two girls, “Rosita” looks into the crowd and shakes her finger in a no gesture. Then she appears to look at the girls and shakes her head and hand in a no-gesture before moving off camera.
In TV appearances, Brown has claimed that after rejecting the girls, the “Rosita” character interacted with a white family next to them, but that interaction was not captured on her camera.
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