When ignorance about breastfeeding coincides with an irrational fear of terrorists, what do you get?
A very nasty scene at a ritzy New York Country Club, that’s what!
This is exactly what Belgian diplomat Tom Neijens and his wife Roseline Remans discovered when they stopped by the Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York on June 8, 2013 and inquired about having lunch.
Club employees permitted the family to dine on the terrace despite the fact that they weren’t members, whereupon Remans began to discreetly breastfeed her daughter Luka at the table.
Neijens, first secretary of the Belgium Mission to the UN, told the New York Post that a female employee of the club quickly interrupted Roseline’s perfectly legal and proper feeding of her baby with this sharp rebuke:
“Please leave immediately, you are disturbing the members!”
When Neijens protested and said it would only take a few minutes, the female staffer insisted that Remans finish in the restroom.
Understandably incredulous at the blatant ignorance on display at such a high end establishment, Mr. Neijens inquired why a baby would be asked to have lunch in the restroom when adults are not.
The Greenburgh Police Department arrived minutes later with Detective Scott Harding apparently yelling, “Close the doors!” with two other diners ordered to leave the terrace.
Mr. Neijens described the chaotic scene as something straight out of a Western movie with the officer walking around like John Wayne with “one hand on his gun, one hand on his Taser.”
The officer warned the couple that they were trespassing despite the fact that country club staff had given them specific permission to dine. He also said that some fearful members thought Mr. Neijens’ black backpack indicated they were terrorists.
Most laughable if not actually true, is what the officer came out with next when a tearful Ms. Remans asked why terrorists would breastfeed at a ritzy club:
“In Sri Lanka, babies are used by terrorists.”
Well, you learn something new every day, don’t you?
Attention all breastfeeding mothers. Your milk engorged breasts are actually considered weapons of mass destruction by law enforcement authorities. That liquid is NOT food for your baby. It is actually highly explosive material that could detonate at any time, sparking a chain of events identified by the media as bona fide terrorist activity.
Detective Harding quickly backed off his ridiculous posturing when Mr. Neijens revealed his State Department issued identification.
He dismissed his over the top behavior by explaining that the club had received terrorist threats in the past.
Despite the fact that they were doing nothing illegal or improper and possessed proper identification, the couple was still escorted off the premises via the back door.
A few days later, Mr Neijens sent an e-mail demanding an apology from Country Club general manager Tracy Fraus and assistant general manager Audra Vaccari.
“I am deeply worried about your staff if they cannot distinguish between a European couple looking for a quiet place to breast-feed a baby and suicide terrorists carrying a backpack.”
Lt. B.J. Ryan, a spokesman for the Greenburgh Police Department, labeled the incident as a simple “cultural misunderstanding.”
Ahem. On behalf of breastfeeding mothers everywhere, I beg to differ.
Breasts are not “cultural” and there is no “misunderstanding” their true purpose. They are the universal instrument for optimal feeding of babies.
Not “boob grenades”.
Hard to believe the terrorism handbook didn’t cover this point properly.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Belgian diplomat booted from golf club, treated “like terrorists” over wife’s breastfeeding
Couple “treated like terrorists” over breastfeeding and backpack at ritzy restaurant
The family was allowed to dine at the club despite not being members. They should have respected the club’s policies. There are a lot of restaurants that don’t allow children or babies to dine, so it is perfectly reasonable for the staff to ask the family not to breastfeed in public. Clearly the family did not belong at the club restaurant as they did not culturally understand that they are supposed to respect house rules at a private club. It was reasonable for the staff to call the police when the family refused to leave–they were given permission to dine at the club and the staff have every right to revoke the permission. If they don’t want to adhere to house rules, they should not have dined at a private club; perhaps they should have gone to some diner or pizzeria. Similarly, I would not want to see someone breast-feeding if I was dining at a nice restaurant. The family seemed selfish and with no regard for other guests at the restaurant.
How about. Fuck New York! have you been there, its asshole central! the police are criminals who get away with anything. Paranoid about terrorist, yes because they are shitty people, and shitty people worry about people they have previously fucked with coming back. So who is really surprised?
When I get children I’m going to breast feed in public if I find myself in the need to do so. I think it’s very important that people don’t forget the baby’s right to eat in public just like everyone else. It’s not like you’r showing your boobs off… You’r feeding a child! It’s actually a good thing!
I don’t agree with what the Club and police did at all, but I do think the article is slightly misleading. They never said that they were suspected terrorists for breastfeeding, or that the breasts are viewed as terrorist bombs (or whatever). The thing pointed out as the suspicion was the backpack, NOT the mother breastfeeding.
One more thing that I recently learned is that if you are asked to leave a place, no matter why you were granted entrance (Club, grocery store, whatever) if they tell you to leave and you do not, you are then considered to be trespassing. I don’t necessarily think it’s right, I just know that’s the way it is. They were told they could eat there, and then asked to leave, and on that basis they were accused of trespassing.
Again, I think they were perfectly fine to breastfeed, I think the Club owners overreacted, but I just wanted to point out that the backpack, not the breasts, was pointed out as terrorist suspicion (probably related to the Boston marathon bombing), even though that was also overreacting .
ok, but truly, it was probably more like they didn’t like the breastfeeding and the backpack was the excuse. how many times daily do you see a backpack? do you freak out every time and think it’s a bomb? lucky he had a backpack so the club could blame it on that.
I agree, I think it was because they were uncomfortable around breastfeeding, but the article seems to indicate that they think breastfeeding is terrorist, when that didn’t seem to be the issue. And again, I think freaking out at a backpack is still overreacting.
Backpack or not, the family was asked to leave, and they refused to leave. The club had every right to ask them to leave since they were not members. It seems to me that they were allowed to dine as non-members as a privilege, not a right. I think the club had every right to call the cops when they refused to leave when asked to do so.