Breastfeeding moms and activists plan to converge on Denny’s restaurant off Patton Avenue in West Asheville on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. for a nurse-in.
The plan is to protest the incident that took place just over a week ago at the restaurant. Breastfeeding mom Crystal Everitt of Asheville says she was asked by the restaurant’s manager to cover herself or feed her 1-year-old son in the bathroom. Everitt says she declined and quoted the North Carolina law, which protects the rights of mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location.
Everitt said she thought the incident was over until she saw the female manager return with a police officer. Everitt says the policewoman told her she could be arrested for trespassing, so she, her husband and two young children left the restaurant.
North Carolina’s indecent exposure law states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.”
Everitt, 28, says if she receives an apology from Denny’s, she will meet with other nursing moms for a meal at the restaurant. If not, a breastfeeding rally will be held outside the restaurant.
“I told Denny’s this can be a nurse-in or a nurse-out. We’re happy to eat there and support them if they’ll apologize,” Everitt says. “Maybe this will show them that this matters to lots of people in their community.”
Everitt’s story has been heating up the message boards at a number of national breastfeeding and parenting sites, and some activists say they’re organizing nurse-ins at other Denny’s locations around the nation on the same day.
Between 20 and 40 moms who are members of the Asheville Mamas Yahoo group plan to attend. Everitt says a number of moms plan to drive to Asheville for the nurse-in, including a group from South Carolina.
Asheville mother Ami Abarbanel plans to attend with her 16-month-old nursing daughter.
“I plan to attend is to support another mother in exercising her right to feed her baby publicly, without having to ‘cover up,’” Abarbanel says. “I’ve learned ‘breast is best,’ and it is too often today that women are not educated enough both about the benefits of breastfeeding and their rights to nurse their babies.”
On the other hand, Asheville mom Lisa Marie Gittings says she won’t attend the nurse-in.
“There are too many questions as far as the reason for it and where/when/how, etc. My biggest reason is that nurse-ins are for education and not punishment,” Gittings says.
Gittings adds that a group of moms are planning a day of “awareness and promotion of breastfeeding” in March at Growing Young Café, that will address the discomfort local moms have had with the Denny’s publicity.
Denny’s has not yet returned messages seeking comment.
— Anne Fitten Glenn