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Mom speaks out after being told not to breast-feed in public

6:58 AM, Jun 8, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A Minneapolis mom is speaking out after a security guard told her to leave the library because she was breast-feeding in public.

It happened recently at the Minneapolis Central Library. But Minnesota law says a mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private. Hennepin County Security says it's turning this example into a teachable moment for it's employees.

Mother Hadley Barrows said she considers nursing a privilege. Although she does admit that isn't always easy.

"There are enough obstacles to nursing as it is, without having people make you feel like a criminal for doing it," she said.

According to Barrows, she was nursing her son on a bench in the atrium of Minneapolis Central Library, trying to be discreet, when a contract security officer approached her.

"He said I was either going to have to take it outside or go in the bathroom," Barrows said. "He said, you're not even covered up, you're just showing everyone: indecent exposure."

Barrows says she immediately went to a librarian, who also told her to move somewhere more private.

According to Hennepin County Security manager Kirk Simmons, the security officer with whom Barrows spoke later found a county police officer who explained the law.

"The county officer had told him that she didn't need to move, she could breast-feed wherever she needed to," Simmons said.

But Barrows said she was never directly told that she could stay.

"I left so mad," she said.

Hennepin County Security said it's trying to use this incident as a teachable moment, which Barrows said she appreciates.

"We basically sent the memo out to all of our staff, just reminding them of what the details of the law involve so that we don't run into that kind of a situation again," Simmons said.

However, Barrows did point out one of the ironies of the teachable moment.

"You think of the library as a place of knowledge," she said. "And even in the library...they don't know that it's OK to nurse your kid in public."

The contract security officer's supervisor was notified of the incident. They say they'll continue to monitor his performance.

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