Mall cops harass breast-feeding moms for “exposing themselves”

Three Delaware moms were targeted by mall security -- and a Delaware state trooper -- for breast-feeding in public

Topics: moms, Breastfeeding, kids, Babies, women's rghts, ,

Mall cops harass breast-feeding moms for "exposing themselves" (Credit: iStockphoto/JoseGirarte)

In response to a report that clothing retailer Hollister had asked a nursing mother to leave their Dallas, Texas store, three women staged a “nurse-in” at Delaware’s Concord Mall in protest. Carrying posters that read, “Hey Hollister, my baby has a right to eat. It’s the law,” as well as “Normalize breastfeeding in public. Do you eat in public? Why shouldn’t our babies?”, the mothers each began breast-feeding their children inside the mall.

It wasn’t long before security showed up. And they weren’t exactly supportive. As reported by NBC Philadelphia:

“Two security guards walked up to us,” said Autumne Murray of Elkton, Maryland. “They started questioning us and asking us why we were exposing ourselves and saying that we needed to leave or cover up. We got in an argument with them about it for a little bit and then they left.”

When mall security returned, they brought along a Delaware State Trooper who was on routine patrol, according to state police.

“He was asking if we were exposing ourselves saying that the security guards said we were exposing ourselves and that we could be kicked out of the mall if we didn’t cover up,” said Murray.

Delaware State Police said they consider the incident a “civil matter” between the three women and the mall, but breast-feeding advocates disagree.  Delaware state law protects a woman’s right to nurse in public, and these women believe the mall security guards violated that law.

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After the story was picked up by various blogs, the Concord Mall’s alleged Facebook page posted obscene remarks about the encounter. The page has since been deleted, but a screen capture reveals both a pre-existing page listing store deals and discounts and the comments in question.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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