Jul 29, 2014
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Somerset Collection Squashes Breastfeeding 'Flash Mob'

Management and security told St. Clair Shores resident Mary Napoli that she and almost a dozen other moms could not breastfeed in public in the mall Sunday afternoon.

What was supposed to be a peaceful breastfeeding flash mob at Sunday afternoon was shut down after mall management and security confronted the event’s organizer, .

"They wouldn't let us do it," Napoli, of St. Clair Shores, said. Napoli had organized the event along with In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC.

As one of 11 women who came to the event, Napoli had just sat down to start nursing her 1-year-old son when a security guard confronted her and told her she needed to stop.

When Napoli said she didn't understand why they couldn't do it, the security guard said, "We do not allow flash mobs."

But Napoli, who breastfed both her sons, thought it was about more than just a flash mob.

When she asked, "So, you don't allow nursing in the mall?" a mall manager replied: "Not in public, we don't."

Michigan state law says that public nudity laws do not apply to a woman breastfeeding a child, though Michigan is not one of the 45 states that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.

"Clearly, feeding your child a meal is offensive to do in the rest of this part of the mall, even though according to the state of Michigan, it's permissible and encouraged," Napoli said.

Edward Nakfoor, spokesperson for The Somerset Collection, said in a statement issued Sunday evening that the mall does allow breastfeeding, though it does not allow "demonstrating or protesting of any kind, as we are private property."

"I am extremely disappointed in the sheer ignorance of Somerset Collection," said lactation consultant Brandy Walters, who was present when the flash mob was dispelled. "I know the breastfeeding community will be supporting Mary."

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