New video footage released Thursday shows the moment a 5-year-old black girl was allegedly snubbed at Sesame Place by several park workers dressed as characters during an encounter last month.
Quinton Burns, the girl’s father, has filed a $25million class action lawsuit against SeaWorld Parks, the owner of Sesame Place, for “pervasive and appalling racial discrimination”, after claiming his daughter, Kennedi, was ignored.
The video, shared by the law firm representing the Baltimore family, shows an employee dressed as the Telly Monster walking down the side of the street as other characters dance down the street.
Telly’s character appears to offer her hand for a jerk to a young viewer, but blown away by Kennedi, who had also held out her hand.
The girl then turns to the camera and frowns, clearly confused and upset by what just happened.
The video shows another employee dressed as Ernie also shaking hands with other children, but not the young black girl as she desperately reaches out. She turns around and says something to the camera, still disappointed.
“Just looking at his face makes me want to cry every time I see him,” Burns said at a press conference with his attorneys on Wednesday, CBS Baltimore reported.
The lawsuit alleges that Kennedi was ignored by a total of four characters at the June 18 event at the Pennsylvania park because of her race: “SeaWorld performers readily engaged with many similarly situated white patrons. “
“We stand here before you today simply to try to fight and protect little black children and their basic civil rights,” attorney Malcolm Ruff told reporters.
“She was ignored among a sea of other young white kids who got to interact, hug, high five,” Ruff said.
Ruff said Burns contacted his law firm after viewing a viral clip showing two other black New York girls being passed over in favor of white children in the crowd at a parade.
“Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of 5. This is unacceptable and we will not sit idly by and let this continue,” Ruff said.
Lawyers representing the New York family told CBS they are not part of this lawsuit.
Sesame Place said in a statement that it is reviewing its practices to identify necessary changes. He also announced that all staff will undergo bias training following the incidents.
“We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns,” Park said in a statement to CBS Baltimore. “We look forward to addressing this claim through the established legal process. We are committed to providing an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for all of our customers.