Chuck E. Cheese said it was "saddened" after the family of a 2-year-old child said the company's mascot ignored their child at a birthday party.
Natyana Muhammad, 29, posted a video of her 2-year-old daughter, Safa, jumping up and down as the character walks out into the entertainment area at a Chuck E. Cheese location in Wayne, N.J. The mascot gives several children, who all appear to be white, high fives, before apparently ignoring a Black child who stuck her hand out for a high five as well.
Muhammad told NBC News her daughter had never seen Chuck E. Cheese in person before, and that she wanted to get Safa's reaction on camera. When the mascot appeared to ignore her daughter, Muhammad said she stopped recording.
"I actually tapped Chuck E. on his arm to let him know that Safa was standing right there, and he ignored me," Muhammad told NBC News.
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Muhammad said a manager eventually pushed the mascot to their table, but the mascot did not apologize. Muhammad said the manager told her the mascot had not seen her child, and that another manager wanted to arrange a photo opp with Chuck E. Cheese, but Safa was clearly upset by the situation.
Muhammad's video has been viewed more than 3.6 million times on Twitter.
Muhammad added she is looking for a lawyer and is potentially planning to file a lawsuit. “I figured it was much needed," she said. "You don’t do that. Not only was it unnecessary, it was inhumane to do that to a toddler."
Chuck E. Cheese said in a statement to NBC News the company "is saddened when any family or child has a less than perfect experience," and thanked the family for "giving the onsite manager an opportunity to apologize and address their concerns in person."
"As home to millions of families and kids every year that celebrate the big and small milestones, including fun, our goal is to create an inclusive experience for children and parents of all ages, races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and learning differences," the company said. "Our mission is to provide a fun and a safe place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid, and all cast members are trained to ensure that we live up to this promise."
Chuck E. Cheese did not immediately respond to a question from NBC News regarding what protocols employees are trained on surrounding interactions with children at its parties.
Muhammad and her daughter were guests of Tawan Thompson, who was hosting a birthday party Saturday for her 2-year-old grandson at Chuck E. Cheese. Thompson told NBC News the mascot did not acknowledge her grandson's entire party, and walked past their party to interact with a family hosting another party at a different table.
"I don’t know the reason why it happened," Thompson said. "I don’t know who’s behind that costume and why they did what they did. But it wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t nice."
Thompson, 51, said she requested to speak to a manager, and the manager offered to have the mascot come back to interact with their party, but she declined.
A general manager reached out to Thompson's daughter the day after the party, but Thompson said her family has not received an apology or explanation for the incident.
"This is an establishment that’s well known, that invite people in, that invite children in and we were mistreated," Thompson said. "And no one has responded to that and no one has given us a reason as to why we were mistreated."
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