Concord Mall Equates Breastfeeding Babies to “Sucking on Wife’s Breasts in Public”; attempts Cover Up

Hollister’s signs are very suggestive, mothers nursing are not.  Photo: Paala Secor of paa.la

On Saturday, January 5, over 1,000 breastfeeding mothers, children, and the friends that stand in support of them gathered peacefully at Hollister stores around the United States and Canada.

More than 50 mothers participated at the Galleria Mall in Houston, Texas, the Hollister store that sparked the nurse-in. Days before the nurse-in, one of the Houston store’s managers screamed at Brittany Warfield and forced her to leave for nursing her baby in the store. You can see video about Houston’s nurse-in at KHOU.com.

Unfortunately, Brittany was not the only mother illegally harrassed for breastfeeding in a mall recently. We’ve heard reports of mothers being harassed at the nurse-ins at Lakeland Square Mall in Florida and at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL (but security later apologized!), and one mother saw a bathroom stall in the Siver City Galleria Mall in Taunton, MA set up for mothers to breastfeed (the toilet had been replaced by a rocking chair and a mall employee confirmed that was the intended use; read more at the link). Ew.

Diana Hitchens’ sister being questioned by Wilmington, Delaware police officers for “indecent exposure” during a nurse-in at the Concord Mall.

Sadly, it gets worse.  In Wilmington, Delaware, Diana Hitchens and two other mothers participated in the Hollister nurse-in at the Concord Mall. Two security guards approached the mothers in a seating area outside of Hollister and asked them to remove the signs they had on their strollers (the women had made signs that said something about normalizing nursing in public) and move to another part of the mall. The mothers took the signs down but continued to breastfeed in their chairs, as they are allowed to do by Delaware law.

The security guards then apparently asked local police to intervene due to the mothers’ “indecent exposure.” The police spoke with the mothers, but the officers did not take any action after Diana showed them a copy of Delaware’s law that protects breastfeeding pairs.

Del. Code Ann. tit. 31 § 310 (1997): Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, a mother shall be entitled to breast-feed her child in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted.

After the police officers left, the security guards threatened the mothers with removal if they nursed again and followed the mothers throughout the mall.

When mothers on Facebook heard about the Concord Mall’s security guards’ actions, they posted on the mall’s Facebook page, asking why the guards were allowed to violate state law. Concord Mall’s response was shocking.

This is one of the mall’s exchanges as captured in the screen shot below:

When this exchange (and others like it) were shared on Facebook, the outrage was immediate. Women from across the U.S. began writing and calling Concord Mall to denounce their company’s deplorable treatment of mothers.

In a poorly executed effort to cover any evidence of wrongdoing, it appears that Concord Mall’s management has disabled its Facebook page. In its responses to several women who have emailed to express their disgust, Concord Mall management denies that it ever had a Facebook page and attempts to distance itself from the security guards in question.

The detective work of several mothers, however, seem to show that Concord Mall is being dishonest. Concord Mall’s website prominently features a link to its Facebook page with this URL: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Concord-Mall/262301207123393

Digging a little further, you can see what looks like business-appropriate activity on a Facebook page for Concord Mall in Google’s cached pages. Google’s cached version matches the URL of the Facebook link on the company’s site. (This is Google’s cache of http://www.facebook.com/pages/Concord-Mall/262301207123393).

Additionally, a Concord Mall employee confirmed to one mother by phone that Concord Mall does maintain a Facebook page that is controlled by mall management.

Concord Mall’s actions are unconscionable. As I wrote in my call to action letter to Concord Mall management,

First, please educate your employees about the rights of breastfeeding pairs. If you need help finding materials or someone to lead an informational session, I will help you find a qualified volunteer from Best for Babes or NursingFreedom.org, or an attorney, Lactation Counselor, or La Leche League leader in your area. Second, you can also display signs that identify your facility as “breastfeeding friendly.” Third, we ask that you issue a formal and public apology for the actions of your employees – not only in humiliating the breastfeeding mothers, but for the ignorant and disgusting comments on your public Facebook page.

You can read the letter in its entirety at Code Name: Mama, and I encourage you to call and write to the mall’s management yourself. They must be made aware that treating women and children this way is illegal, immoral, and we will not allow it to stand.

Calling and asking to talk to management is more effective than writing. Just have a few talking points written down, and calmly tell them how you feel. The number for the Concord Mall is (302) 478-9271. Please be polite.

You can follow up by emailing your concerns. Here are several email addresses you can send your message to:

Ed Tennyson etennyson@alliedrealprop.com
Jim Oeste joeste@alliedrealprop.com
info@alliedrealprop.com

We need to harness the emotions running high from these nurse-ins and make some positive change across the country. If you live in a state with no enforcement provision for your breastfeeding law, or if your state’s breastfeeding law is inadequate or nonexistent, take action! Let’s join together to protect the rights of breastfeeding pairs.

Cheer on a nursing mom! Order our Thank You for NIP cards :-) Just $3 for 10 cards, free shipping!

And please help keep our 1-855-NIP-FREE Nursing Harassment Hotline Alive! Your donations, no matter how small make it possible to provide this badly-need public service to moms and babies!

_________________________

Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of two amazing kids, Kieran and Ailia. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with little ones. Dionna is also cofounder of Natural Parents Network and NursingFreedom.org, and author of For My Children: A Mother’s Journal of Memories, Wishes, and Wisdom.

All photos used with permission.
Photo Credits are as follows:
Photo 1: Paala Secor of paa.la
Photo 2: Diana Hitchens
Photo 3: Michelle DeanRuben
Photo 4: Michelle DeanRuben
Photo 5: Tia Webb
Photos 6 and 7: Dionna Ford



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21 Responses to Concord Mall Equates Breastfeeding Babies to “Sucking on Wife’s Breasts in Public”; attempts Cover Up

  1. Rachel says:

    Do you have the name of the security company that the security guard worked for? I think we need to contact them as well to ask them to better train their employees.

  2. Hell hath no fury like mothers acting lawfully despite illegal and misogynistic behaviors of others. Good sleuthing, good blog piece, and excellent action items suggested

  3. Lauren Johnson says:

    Just so it is clarified bc I have had a few moms ask if we recieved an apology in Lakeland, Fl we have not. I am reaching out to mall mgmt today or tomorrow.

  4. Kristin Woodruff RN, IBCLC says:

    Wow. Just WOW. Liars! Did they really think that you nobody would figure this out? Excellently researched piece. As Liz said, great sleuthing.
    This disgusts me. I hope that they are all relieved from the duty of their positions and that within a few weeks there is a large beautiful sign at every entrance to the mall that says “Breastfeeding in Public Friendly Zone” and that it lists the law in the fine print underneath. One of those signs should also bu hung RIGHT IN FRONT OF HOLLISTER.
    And I laughed out loud when I saw the yellow sign that said “clothing optional” at Hollister.
    On a snarky note, Maybe that mom should have pointed at the sign and said “excuse me for breastfeeding in FRONT of your store, I’ll just come inside where you clearly are more comfortable with that.”

  5. Mama says:

    Honestly, the more I hear about the disgusting behaviour towards women breastfeeding in the US the more I wonder about their treatment full stop. It just seems so backwards and hateful, this cannot be the only abuse practiced on a regular basis. In a country with such a strong memory and history of racism it surprises me that this modern form of sexism isn’t recognised and more widely condemned.

    Good luck with your nurse-ins and fighting for your (and your children’s) basic rights. This is such an important issue.

  6. sindy amerzon says:

    Although I Do not agree to the way the situation was handled, i don’t think it is a good idea to nurse inpublic,for such a intimate thing, and due to exposure, it should be done in more private areas. I wouldn’t want my children o to see such indecency. I think women who breast feed should do out in the bathroom where only women are. It seems like the same idea of having separate bathrooms, yes it is a n. atural th ing, butyou wouldn’t want the opposite sec watching you urinate

    • Reiny says:

      Your well thought out and intelligent post was so mind changing! Yeah, um no, It is NATURAL, do you want to eat in a bathroom? Are you so worried about your child’s psyche that you think breastfeeding will traumatize them? There are worse things on SpongeBob, give me a break.

  7. j says:

    the “concord mall” facebook comments are not from the one in delaware…it says that it is in indiana. Also when you follow the link from the concord mall website, the address is unknown and won’t open. I have nursed in the concord mall without incident from security…this was about 1 1/2 ago.

  8. Paala says:

    Thank you for going into the details of the Concord Mall issue, Dionna, and for sharing my photo. I cannot believe Concord Mall thinks they can just lie about something so obviously false to try to cover their own tushes. Shameful.

  9. Whoa. Classic case of how to handle a communications crisis! Thanks for doing all the leg work and putting this story together. And for encouraging positive action steps to help make positive change.

  10. erin says:

    When I called I was directed to management at Allied Property (302) 479-8314. I was first told that there has never been an incident of discrimination against breast feeding mothers, but when I countered that women have stated that they were harassed while feeding their children I was told that it was under investigation and a formal response was being prepared for their website. When I asked how the mall was insuring that nursing mothers were not being harassed I was told to check back to their website. Perhaps it’s best to boycott Concord Mall and Allied Properties in support of vendors who support mothers and families.

  11. Christine says:

    I can not believe this! I’m from Delaware and frequent the concord mall…has anyone seen how awful, smelly and poorly kept their “family room” is? Outrageous…

  12. Dor Cowie says:

    Tis a rather bizarre situation isn’t it? They can’t deal with uncovered boobs, so they revert to covering asses- no doubt male asses, since no one seems to have any problem looking at female ones! Breast feeding in a bathroom is entirely unsanitary and uncomfortable, and even locatng a decent spot if one is supplied is inconvenient with a small baby. Mothers get tired enough with small children without having to haul the kit and caboodle another block before they can sit and feed a hungry crying child. Hell, I am in menopause and I breast fed my child to the age of two. I still remember having rock hard, leaking boobs that limited my activity unless I breast fed as required. So very many health issues in this that it is quite ridiculous.

  13. Lumina says:

    I just called Concord Mall and was told management was not there after 5:30 pm. I had talked with customer service about the incident. I am so glad for the unity we can display in support of all nursing mothers. Thank you for this article.

  14. Alicia says:

    I am a new mom and I was born and raised in Delaware. However I just recently moved back here from Arizona where breastfeeding was more accepted. I am shocked to return to the east coast and find that my family and friends and almost every person that live here is of the mindset that it is a horrible thing to do. One person told me, “as a nursing mother you are just confined to your house.” REALLY???? I don’t think so. I have a 4 month old who is breastfed and doesn’t like to be covered because we never had to in Arizona. I have nursed in stores and out at dinner at the table. I am careful not to fully expose myself but I do not use a cover. I am at a loss as to where to begin to fix people’s mentality about this, but I am not spending the next year locked up in my house because everyone is so highly offended. If people don’t want to eat their food in a bathroom why should my baby have too? Why should my baby have a blanket over her head to eat? Why don’t they put one over their heads while they eat there food. This has touched a nerve with me.

  15. Josh Jones says:

    Not sure if this will be particularly useful, but I’ve been ensuring to keep the Wikipedia article regarding the Mall up to date related to their attempted cover-up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concord_Mall_(Delaware)

    One interesting thing – an IP address from New Jersey apparently attempted to add their same cover story as a “Breastfeeding Response” a few days ago. It was removed almost immediately, but it’s here to read if you’re interested:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Concord_Mall_(Delaware)&diff=531999809&oldid=531695718

  16. Emily says:

    And now the facebook tab on their website has vanished… The attempt to backtrack is almost as infuriating as the precipitating events!

  17. Maggie says:

    UGH. Are we not evolving AT ALL??? This is so discouraging. I always expect more from the human race and am, sadly, disappointed quite often. If others can’t “come to grips” with the fact that breastfeeding is happening, could they at least just MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS????? Concord is about 20 minutes from me. I don’t go there very often, but I certainly don’t see myself going out of my way to go there again. Until I have another nursing baby :)

  18. Amanda says:

    Interestingly enough, if you go to the Concord Mall website now, they have a link on the top right to the breastfeeding Coalition of Delaware. I’m glad to see they they are trying to do the right thing going forward even if it’s small steps.

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