Officer Threatens To Arrest Breastfeeding Mom, Bystander's Response Goes Viral
ShareTap Staff 2/1/2017
The men and women in law enforcement have a lot to worry about when it comes to the public's safety, but a deputy officer in Columbus, Georgia, seems to have picked the worst reason of all to exercise his authority.
Savannah Shukla, is a mother of two young children in Columbus. Carrying her then 1-month-old in a sling and pushing the 20-month-old in a stroller, Savannah was at her local Piggly Wiggly store finishing up some grocery shopping. Nothing about this situation seems threatening or absurd at first! But Deputy Zipata of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office seemed to claim otherwise.
Like any parent of a newborn knows, infants don't care where they are to get hungry and upset. When confronted with her newborn's cries, Savannah did what was natural and offered to breastfeed him in the grocery store, while still holding him in the sling. Crisis averted, right!? Not really!
Deputy Zipata who was in the vicinity, noticed Savannah nursing in public and confronted her just as she was about to walk out of the grocery store. He asked her to stop nursing and cover up to prevent any arrests for indecent exposure. Savannah was appalled to say the least. Later recounting the incident on her Facebook page, she says:
"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."
For Deputy Zipata her knowledge of the law frustrated him even more. He went as far as denying the law's existence and stuck to his words of why Savannah was in the wrong for breastfeeding in public. Savannah wrote about his reaction in her post,
"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."
The whole incident had Savannah crying and flustered even though she had done nothing wrong! She recalls,
"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."
Fortunately, another customer was there to snap a photo of the incident.
April, who is a paralegal by profession, happened to notice the interrogation and was just as appalled to see Deputy Zipata's wrongful behavior. She not only snapped a photo but also got the deputy's name and shared her opinion as a bystander who wasn't offended at all by the public breastfeeding. April's information helped Savannah file an official complaint against the deputy the next morning.
Thankfully, the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office was also on Savannah's side. Retired Sheriff Deputy John T. Darr decided to meet with Savannah to discuss the incident and offer his apology on behalf of the department, which he later made public via Facebook,
"I reiterated my personal stance on breastfeeding, as a father and grandfather. My children were all breastfed and I would never condone a law enforcement officer telling my wife that she should stop feeding our child or face arrest ... We have sent out a reminder to all of our deputies, that in accordance with Georgia law, a woman has a legal right to breastfeed wherever she needs to, without having to cover up. Additional training shall follow."
In an interview later, Savannah shares just what this meant for her and all nursing moms!
In the end, Deputy Zipata also offered a public apology to Savannah. But it doesn't change the fact that his ignorance and arrogance at first caused so much distress for Savannah. In the end we can all be thankful that the department as a whole took the right stance on behalf of all nursing moms in GA.