Baltimore Family Files $25 Million Lawsuit Over Sesame Place Character's Snub of Black Child

·3 min read
Baltimore Family Files $25 Million Lawsuit Over Sesame Place Character's Snub of Black Child

A $25 million dollar lawsuit has been filed against SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, the parent company of Sesame Place, after a Baltimore family claimed four costumed characters deliberately ignored their daughter and other Black visitors.

The incident occurred during a meet-and-greet event at Sesame Place Philadelphia, a Sesame Street-themed amusement park where Quinton Burns and his family paid to have one-on-one interactions with Elmo, Ernie, Telly Monster and Abby Cadabby. The four employees portraying the characters, referred to in the lawsuit as John Does 1-4, allegedly snubbed his daughter after giving explicit attention to white visitors.

Filed in Pennsylvania federal court on Wednesday, the class action lawsuit holds Burns as a representative of other families who came forward after experiencing similar situations at the park.

The lawsuit comes a week after a different family's video showing the character Rosita seemingly ignoring two Black girls during a parade went viral on social media.

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According to the allegations in the complaint, Sesame Place employers had prior knowledge that the four costumed characters who met with the Burns family and others held "racial bias towards Black people" and therefore these issues were "foreseeable."

Sesame Place
Sesame Place

Getty Images

In a press conference attended by Burns and his lawyers on Wednesday, attorney Mart Harris of Murphy, Falcon and Murphy, said "We want to punish SeaWorld because they know what happened was wrong, and we're sure we're going to find that this was indeed a pattern that they were aware of – they just didn't care."

RELATED: Kelly Rowland Blasts Sesame Place over Viral Video of Muppet Ignoring Black Girls as Park Speaks Out

Sesame Place character Oscar the Grouch performs during the 95th Annual 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sesame Place character Oscar the Grouch performs during the 95th Annual 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Getty

Burns also made a statement at Wednesday's press conference saying he and his wife are "hurt and devastated" by the racial discrimination he believed his daughter had to face at just 5 years old. The law firm shared video evidence of the incident shortly after the press conference was held.

According to a Sesame Place representative, the park is currently reviewing the lawsuit and "looking forward to" addressing its claims. They also stated, "We are committed to deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests."

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Last week, a video showing costumed character "Rosita" dismissing two little Black girls went viral. In the footage, a white visitor is seen receiving a high-five just before the character bypasses the young girls.

The viral video gained attention from celebrities like Kelly Rowland, who blasted the park on Instagram and said those girls deserved an explanation.

Also in response to the video, another park goer shared a similar encounter on Instagram of Rosita brushing off a greeting from her excited daughter, Lola. "The character went out of their way to change course and Immediately after hugged and took a pic with a little white girl," she wrote.