GA woman says deputy called her breastfeeding at store 'offensive'
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus woman says a deputy at a local grocery store told her to stop breastfeeding her daughter in public and she wrote about the incident on Facebook.
Savannah Shukla shared her story Sunday on Facebook, and says a Muscogee County deputy told her to stop breastfeeding her baby, 1-month-old Kumar because others might find it "offensive." Shukla says she was in the process of leaving at the Piggly Wiggly located on 13th Street when the incident happened.
Shukla said she's never had any problems breastfeeding at any Piggly Wiggly locations prior to this incident. Shukla's post, which shows another customer posting about it, says:
Tonight while in Piggly Wiggly with my sister and both my children (the oldest 20mos and the youngest 1-month-old today) while nursing a Deputy approached me right when I was about to leave and informed that I needed to cover up because someone might find it "offensive."
I repeated the law back to him stating that Georgia state law says I can breastfeed however most comfortable wherever I want as long as I'm authorized to be there.
He then grows flustered and says "No ma'am that's not the case."
And I said: "No I know what the law says" for him to say:
"You just THINK you know what the law says and if your nipple becomes exposed I really don't want to have to arrest you or you be arrested for being offensive. This isn't like the first amendment where you can say something offensive."
I then repeated what the GA state law says and told him if someone finds this offensive something is wrong with them.
For him to tell me once again that I just "think" I know the law.
He also pointed out how he could "already see my areola" and that if someone saw my nipple (even if I were trying to cover up) that he would have to arrest me and that he "really didn't want to arrest me". For him to see my areola he would've had to have been staring VERY hard.
I finally got mad enough and walked away telling him I know my right to have a good night. And went to the car and boohooed and I'm still boohooing about it.
I'd like to thank April the Paralegal for defending me, taking this picture and getting his name for me.
I'm so upset about it and I understand why this type of harassment can cause moms to stop.
I WILL be reporting this to whoever his higher ups are tomorrow morning because if he did it to me he will do it to someone else. And who knows who else he's done it too.
Shukla said she would be filing a complaint with the sheriff's office on Monday. She also says she breastfeeds both of her children.
The actions of the deputy, who is an employee of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, garnered a response by Sheriff John Darr, who posted a message an apology to Shukla on Monday.
"I fully understand and appreciate the right of a woman to feed her child wherever she is most comfortable. It is also the law in the state of Georgia," Darr wrote. "We are currently looking into this incident and it will be addressed."
Darr said his role as a husband, father and grandfather allow him to understand the need to breastfeed in public. He also said that he will make sure deputies know breastfeeding laws.
"On behalf of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, I would like to personally extend an apology to the woman involved, and we hope that she knows that these are not the opinions or practices of the office as a whole," Darr said.
Georgia Code An. § 31-1-9 states that a mother "has a right to breastfeed in public."
The law says:
The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.
Sheriff Darr, who did not respond to our request for comment, made an additional post on Facebook Monday evening.
We've also reached out Piggly Wiggly JTM for comment on this incident.
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