The group discussed the incident Saturday before Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Social Justice Summit in Manhattan and called out those who were outraged by the incident.
“We blame the community, activists, organizations and people in this country who genuinely believe in liberty and justice for all of us – what are you willing to do?” said family attorney B’Ivory LaMarr. “Are you finally ready to engage with 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 the character Rosita high-fiving a white child and woman, then gesturing “no” and walking away were two girls who had stretched out their arms for a hug and 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 receive the full consideration and respect of every other child,” Crump said.
During an interview with Action News on Saturday, Sesame Place president and chief executive officer Cathy Valeriano said the park was looking at its internal practices both immediately and over the long term.
“We as an organization are heartbroken that these girls experienced this and that’s on us,” she said.
Valeriano said the actor in the Rosita costume hasn’t worked since July 16.
LaMarr said he was having trouble with the park’s response.
“It doesn’t take three declarations in five days to recognize racism,” he said.
“We could have been more thoughtful in our first statement and we stand by that,” said Valeriano.
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 to a meeting if we need a meeting. Absolutely, I understand emotions are raw, but it’s something we have to learn internally and grow from, and we’re not going to fix that overnight,” Valeriano said.
On Saturday afternoon, the Middletown Township Police Department said police were at the scene with great caution in response to a planned protest at the park. Police said they were alerted that protesters would be blocking roads and closing Sesame Square.
Two men were arrested and charged with summary offenses of highway obstruction and disorderly conduct.
Both received summary summonses and were released. After the two men were arrested, the protest continued peacefully for several hours without incident.
Earlier this week, Brown was joined by LaMarr at a press conference ahead of the Sesame Workshop in New York City.
Despite the park’s apology, Brown says she’s not convinced as backlash over the incident continues to mount.
The two little girls’ family demands more from Sesame Place to make amends.
Lamarr said they don’t want to sue the company, it’s not about money, it’s about getting things right — and that hasn’t happened yet.
“They’ve been telling these kids for years, ‘Come and play, everything’s fine, nice neighbors over there, we’ll meet there, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?'” he said. “And once these kids figure out how to get to Sesame Street… they embrace these friendly neighbors with open arms, for what? To get fired? to be rejected? And to have your park underlaid?”
LaMarr said he has additional documentation about the incident and may release it depending on Sesame Place’s further actions.
“We have information that we possess – we will give this company, they have less than 12 hours to release information with a very sincere and authentic apology – or we will provide evidence showing exactly what happened to complement that.” video you’ve already seen,” LaMarr said.
LaMarr said the evidence relates to family comments that the Rosita character hugged a white child after walking past the two girls.
In an initial statement, Sesame Place said the park and its employees stand for “inclusiveness and equality in all forms.” The statement also noted that performers sometimes miss requests for hugs because the costumes they wear make them difficult to see at lower levels.
“The Rosita actor did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” the statement said.
However, many people have expressed outrage online and some have called for a boycott of the amusement park.
The park issued a second statement Monday, apologizing again and promising it was “taking action to make it better.” These efforts also include inclusion 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 changes needed, both immediate and long-term. We are introducing mandatory training for all of our employees so that we can better recognize, understand and deliver an inclusive, fair and fun experience for all of our guests. We have worked with nationally recognized experts in the field.”
The family said they showed the video to Sesame Place right after the incident and said the character didn’t act that way towards white children who were there.
“This mother tried to solve this problem immediately,” Lamarr said. “This was not about advertising. It wasn’t about money. She immediately went to management at the park. She showed them the same video that millions of people in this country and around the world have seen. Sesame Place had an opportunity to see this video at that time. You have chosen to reject it. You have decided to dismiss this family.
Brown said staff told her there was no supervisor available at the park at the time.
The company also invited the family to return to the park, promising a better experience, but their attorney said they were unwilling to accept that.
“I just feel like the apologies weren’t genuine, and I believe the apologies are being released now because they caused so much uproar,” Brown said. “I want them to be able to do the right thing as I, my niece and my daughter have all suffered from embarrassment (and) discriminatory behavior.”
Lamarr said they want the person in the Rosita costume fired, and he also wants the park to pay for any mental health care costs for the children as a result of the incident.
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