By Calvin Palmer
A Connecticut woman plans to file complaints with a police department and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities after she was told to stop breastfeeding her two-year-old daughter on a family beach.
Kendra Dickinson, was feeding her daughter at Sears Park on Lake Pocotopaug, in East Hampton, when a lifeguard approached and told her she would need to use the bathroom to nurse her daughter Ella.
Dickinson, a former kindergarten teacher who directs a youth theater group and works with children at her church, took the matter up with Heather Holbrook, the director of the camp at the beach who works for the parks and recreation department.
She was informed that her breast had been visible and camp children had complained.
Connecticut Statute 53-34b states, “No person may restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child.”
The parks and recreation department is conducting and investigation and refused to comment on the matter.
Dickinson went to the police department Sunday to file a complaint. Sgt Paul Battista said to her, “What did you really lose? An afternoon at the beach?”
Dickinson said the sergeant asked her, “Don’t you think that nursing a 2 year old is strange?”
Acting police chief Lt Michael Green blamed “miscommunication” for the interaction between Dickinson and the officer. He said that neither he nor Battista had been familiar with the law regarding breastfeeding, and that Battista was confused about what Dickinson expected the police to do.
Jennifer Olynyk, from the breastfeeding support group La Leche League said that Connecticut laws, in existence for more than five years, are some of the strongest in the nation.
“I think that usually, it’s a case of ignorance when people try to stop breast-feeding in public,” said Olynyk. “What usually happens is that when someone is made aware that they have violated rights, they apologize. Usually the end result is education.”
She said that it was unfortunate these events were happening during World Breastfeeding Week, when a simultaneous nursing event would be taking place in Elizabeth Park.
Dickinson says she plans to continue to visit Sears Park with her family.
“I wonder if I will ever feel comfortable there again,” she said.
I wonder if the rest of the world will ever feel comfortable knowing that people like Dickinson exist with the community.
What did she expect the police to do, arrest the lifeguard and the director of the camp for violating state law?
Is her attorney, Eric Henzy, waiving his fee to fight this heinous violation of Dickinson’s human rights? Knowing attorneys, as I do, I would be most surprised if that were the case.
Strikes me that the whiff of financial compensation is in the air and that is the reason that Dickinson has gone to these extraordinary lengths to get her panties in a wad.
All we need now is one of the mothers of the children at the camp to file a complaint of lewd behavior on the part of Dickinson and this story could run and run.
[Based on a report in The Hartford Courant.]