A Georgia woman says that she was threatened with arrest for breastfeeding her infant son in a grocery store, something that Georgia law says she is allowed to do, WTVM (Columbus, Georgia) is reporting.
Savannah Shukla was shopping at a Columbus Piggly Wiggly (a popular chain of grocery stores in the South) when her one-month-old son, Kumar, started fussing. As every mother who has ever breastfed will tell you, when a baby starts fussing, there’s not much you can do besides feed him. So Shukla did what she has done countless times before; she put her baby to her breast and let him eat while she continued shopping.
Savannah says that she has breastfed at Piggly Wiggly before. But as she explained in a lengthy Facebook post, a Muscogee County deputy happened to be at the Piggly Wiggly that day, and he took exception to Savannah breastfeeding in public.
Shukla says the cop, identified by another Facebook user as “Officer Zipata,” told her she needed to cover up because someone might find her partially-exposed breast “offensive.” Shukla refused, saying that Georgia law allows her to breastfeed in public.
Before this story continues, it bears noting that Shukla is right: in Georgia, mothers are allowed to breastfeed in public, anywhere where mother and baby are legally allowed to be, according to US Legal.
“The breast-feeding 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 breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.”
“Officer Zipata” wasn’t buying Shukla’s explanation, however — that, or he didn’t like publicly being told that he was wrong. Either way, he continued to argue with Savannah — Savannah says he became “flustered” — and then began to publicly discuss her anatomy with her.
“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… I can already see your areola. This isn’t like the first amendment where you can say something offensive.”
Eventually Savannah grew tired of arguing with the deputy and decided to leave the situation, figuring that if he was that bent on arresting her, he would do so. He did not.
Another Facebook user, identified only as “April the paralegal,” was there at the Piggly Wiggly with Savannah that day. She snapped the picture you saw above, as well as provided Savannah with moral support while the confrontation was going down.
Even though she wasn’t arrested, Shukla was furious about the encounter, and not only took her complaint to social media, she also formally filed a complaint against the deputy through legal channels.
On Monday, Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr publicly apologized for what the breastfeeding mom went through because of one of his deputies.
“Our office does not condone these actions and will ensure all officers know and understand the law. 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.”
Further, he said that as a parent and as a grandparent, whose children and grandchildren were all breastfed, he supports the right of Georgia moms to breastfeed in public without hassle.
“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 also promised that there would be “additional training” so that his deputies don’t hassle breastfeeding moms in the future.
[Feature Image by FamVeld/Shutterstock]