Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump joins family in calling for action on allegations of racism at Sesame Place.


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NEW YORK (WPVI) — Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has joined a family of two young black girls in a call to action after videos emerged showing children being abused by a costumed character.

The group discussed the incident outside the Jay-Z Roc Nation social justice summit in Manhattan on Saturday and issued a call to action for those outraged by the incident.

“We demand from the community, activists, organizations and people across the country who truly believe in freedom and justice for all of us – what are you willing to do?” said family attorney B’Ivory Lamarr. “Are you finally ready to tackle these issues?”

This came after Jodie Brown, the mother of one of the girls, posted a nine-second video on Instagram on July 16 in which the character Rosita high-fived a white child and a woman, then gestured “no” and walked away. two girls held out their arms for a hug and high five during a 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 the full attention and respect of any other child,” Crump said.

During an interview with Action News on Saturday, Cathy Valeriano, president and general manager of Sesame Place, said the park is looking into its internal practices both in the near and long term.

“We as an organization are heartbroken that these girls went through this and it’s on us,” she said.

Valeriano said that the performer dressed as Rosita had not worked since July 16.

Lamarr said he disagreed with 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 will acknowledge that going forward,” Valeriano said.

The congressional black caucus is currently demanding a meeting with Valeriano to discuss the changes, action plans, and training the park plans to provide.

“We are open for a meeting if we need to have a meeting. Absolutely, I understand that the emotions are raw, but this is something that we have to learn and grow from it, this is not something that we are going to fix overnight,” said Valeriano.

On Saturday afternoon, the Middletown Township Police Department said police were in the park with great caution in response to a planned protest. Police said they had become aware that the protesters were going to block roads and close Sesame Place.

Two men were arrested and charged with summary offenses of road blocking and disorderly conduct.

Both were given brief citations and released. After the two men were arrested, the protest continued peacefully without incident for several hours.

SEE ALSO: New video shows a different angle of the ‘Sesame Place’ incident

Earlier this week, Brown was joined by Lamarr at a press conference outside the Sesame Workshop in New York.

Despite the park’s apology, Brown says she’s not convinced as backlash continues to grow over the incident.

The family of two little girls demands that Sesame Place do more to make amends.

Lamarr said they don’t want to sue the company, that it’s not about the money, it’s about fixing things, and that hasn’t happened yet.

“You’ve been telling these kids for years, ‘Come play, it’s all right, there are friendly neighbors, that’s where we’ll meet, could you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?'” he said. “And once these kids figure out how to get to Sesame Street, they are drawn to these friendly neighbors with open arms, for what? To get them fired? To be rejected? And leave your park defective?

Lamarr said he has more documentation of the incident and may release it depending on Sesame Place’s next steps.

“We have the information that we have – we are going to give this company, they had less than 12 hours to present the information with a very sincere and credible apology – or we are going to provide evidence showing exactly what happened in addition to the video. you’ve already seen,” Lamarr said.

SEE ALSO: Family demands Sesame Place to do more amid allegations of racism, wants to fire worker

Lamarr said the evidence relates to family comments that after Rosita’s character walked past two girls, he hugged a white child.

Sesame Place’s initial statement said the park and its staff stand for “inclusiveness and equality in all forms.” The statement also notes that performers sometimes miss requests for hugs because the costumes they wear make it difficult to see at lower levels.
“Rosita’s performer didn’t intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” the statement said.

However, many people expressed outrage online, and some called for a boycott of the amusement park.

On Monday, the park released a second statement, again apologizing and promising that it is “taking action to do better.” Among these efforts will be inclusive employee training.

In a new statement released on Saturday, Sesame Place says they are “taking action.”

“We are taking action and reviewing our practices to determine the necessary changes, both in the near and long term. We are introducing mandatory training for all our employees so that we can better recognize, understand and deliver an inclusive, fair and interesting experience for all our guests. We have engaged nationally recognized experts in this field.”

The family said they showed the video of Sesame Place right after it happened, stating that the character did not act like that towards the white kids who were there.

“This mother tried to resolve this issue immediately,” Lamarr said. “It was not about advertising. It wasn’t about the money. She immediately turned to the management of the park. She showed them the same video that millions of people across the country and around the world had seen. to see this video at that time. They decided to reject it. They decided to fire this family.”

Brown said staff told her that there was no lookout in the park at the time.

The company also invited the family to return to the park, promising more fun, but their lawyer said they weren’t ready to accept it.

“I just feel like the apology wasn’t sincere, and I believe the apology is being made now because it caused so much noise,” Brown said. “I want them to be able to do the right thing as I, my niece and my daughter suffered from embarrassment (and) discriminatory behavior.”

Lamarr said they want the man in the Rosita costume to be fired, and he also wants the park to pay for any mental health costs the children will need as a result of the incident.

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