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Moms Stage Nurse-In at Target Stores

Local women join others across the country for a public breast-feeding session after a woman in Texas says she was harassed by Target employees.

In the upstairs cafe of the Washingtonian Center's two-story Target Wednesday morning, some patrons sipped coffee drinks from Starbucks, while others sipped breast milk.

At 10 a.m., about a dozen mothers (and a handful of fathers) staged a public nurse-in, breastfeeding their children in the store to protest what they say is a corporate policy of harassment by the retail chain.

Amber Campanelli of Gaithersburg, who was feeding her 8-month-old son Gordon, said she found out about the event through Facebook and wanted to act.

"It's been happening a lot lately," she said of being harassed for feeding in public. "It's not that surprising. A lot of people don't know the laws. That's why we do this. So people do know the laws."

And that law, in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, unequivocally states that women are allowed to breastfeed in public.

"A mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be," says the Maryland Health-General Code Ann. 20-801.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast-feed her child at any location where that woman would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased or controlled by the Commonwealth," according to the Virginia Code Ann. 18.2-387.

On indecent exposure, the code states: "No person shall be deemed to be in violation of this section for breastfeeding a child in any public place or any place where others are present."

And in Washington, D.C., Code Ann. 2-1402.81 states: "A woman shall have the right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where she has the right to be with her child, without respect to whether the mother's breast or any part of it is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding of her child."

Federal law also says breastfeeding is allowed in any federal building or on any federal property. Federal buildings also include museums such as the Hirschhorn in Washington, D.C., where Campanelli also attended a nurse-in in February after a mother was repeatedly asked to restrict her breastfeeding to the restroom.

Today's nurse-in was spawned when mothers in Gaithersburg joined at least 100 other groups across the U.S.—in more than 35 states—that were unhappy with how Target store employees treated a Texas woman last month.

Michelle Hickman, from Houston, TX, was instructed to move to the changing rooms when she tried to breastfeed her 5-month-old son Noah at local Target store.

The next day Hickman called Target's corporate headquarters and was told by guest relations, “just because it’s a woman’s legal right to nurse a baby in public doesn’t mean she should walk around the store flaunting it,” according to a story on Time.com.

This sparked a response on Facebook that spread quickly, and soon nurse-in groups sparked across the country.

Lior Moller was at the store feeding her 18-month-old son Eitan.

"We're raising awareness to the fact that people still don't know the laws and people don't have the right to segregate nursing mothers," she said.

She added that she thinks Target responded to the national outcry "pretty well," adding that they offered an apology and their policy is generally a supportive one.

No printed apology could be found on Target's corporate website, and a manager at the Gaithersburg store would not comment on the nurse-in.

However the manager did confirm Target's policy that nursing mothers could feed in the store if they chose to.

The Huffington Post.com reports that Target has been accused of threatening breastfeeding moms in the past—once in Minneapolis in 2006 and once in Michigan in 2009.

Following the 2006 incident, Target released this statement:

Target has a long-standing practice that supports breastfeeding in our stores. We apologize for any inconvenience the guest experienced and will take this opportunity to reaffirm this commitment with our team members. For guests in our stores, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms. In addition, guests who choose to breastfeed discreetly in more public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable.

There are four Target stores in Montgomery County: , , Rockville and .

There was no nurse-in at the Germantown or Wheaton store on Wednesday.

Jeff Hawkins December 30, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Peter: "Sure, not all "intended" purposes are done in public (e.g., defecation and copulation)" (how come?). "but eating is perfectly acceptable in public." (unless it's posted otherwise) "Whereas nobody used the word "offensive" explicitly, there are comments that indicate offense being taken: " 1) "how sick are these women" 2) "I'd go to the store manager and complain" (all I would say to that is, to some people it may be offensive) (those people have every right to be offended as you do about something). I see alot of people claiming that certain things offend them, then when then the table is turned, those same people can't understand how somebody could be offended. Personally, I don't care one way or the other. I find the debate/argument more entertaining the subject matter.
Jeff Hawkins December 30, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Theresa: Yes....I'm outraged that there would such a "fuss' made about a business pulling their TV ads :) (does that help?). Sorry, I couldn't resist! Seriously, maybe there just isn't that much outrage out there? I don't think one can manufacture it. It's either there or it isn't. Please check my spelling before it's attacked by the Lowe's protesters. They like to do that you now?
Sharon December 30, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Careful all those commenting on this thread. Any slight deviation from topic at hand will find your thread removed by editors of PATCH. I was told I strayed when I commented on recent robbery of CVS & added my surprise (in addition to money holdups) it had not been hit for pharmaceutical products...my general topic still on line with robberies and CVS location. No profane vocabulary used or even implied with 'characters' (&!#^%^) as above; no slur on ethnic backgrounds or race. But my comment was still censored/removed in entirety. Comment thread is provided but 'freedom of speech/expression' denied. Now who has the right to censor such or decide that my 'train of thought' or word association is subject to comment removal! Rhetorical! Don't worry all! I have unsubscribed to PATCH (for automatic updates) or will continue to get my news from the Gazette.
Sharon December 30, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Postscript to previous comment: I think we can all agree that the original intent of PATCH when providing this comment section was for readers to make comments not only & always based on concrete fact but based on personal opinions & experience with possible subject of article at hand. Apparently, this original concept of comment site has changed. I, by the way, do have 'opinion' on breastfeeding in public (or in the center of store aisles). But chose to comment on Facebook where there is more freedom to express. Sorry, folks, if you are wondering where these last 2 comments have suddenly come from. But there is one person who will totally understand my disappointment in the way PATCH operates or, at least, how it chose to operate with 'one person/reader'.
Tyler Bailey December 31, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Sharon Adams, grow up.

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