SHORT PUMP, Va. -- A local mother was asked by security personnel at Short Pump Town Center to stop breastfeeding her 8-month old at the mall, even though she is legally allowed to do so.
Ashley Cooper recorded a Facebook Live video of her experience over the weekend, and it had more than 60,000 views as of noon on Tuesday.
Cooper said she had brought her children to the mall to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny.
In the video, Cooper said her toddler was upset while waiting in line. The mother of two said she tried to discretely feed her child while sitting on a bench at the mall, but security guards approached her saying she had to go to a nursing facility, which Cooper said was occupied at the time.
Cooper recorded the moments right after the security guard radioed a supervisor, a video that since has gone viral.
"They are trying to tell me that I cannot feed my baby on a bench in a corner," Cooper said in the Facebook video. "The security is on the radio with somebody."
Cooper said she was furious that mall security would react that way.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that for trying to feed my baby,” she said.
After finishing feeding her toddler, Cooper said she went to guest services to report the incident. Cooper said the women at the desk apologized for how the security guard handled the situation.
Through a spokesperson, Short Pump Town Center released the following statement about the incident:
"We are very sorry for Ms. Cooper’s experience at our center. As soon as mall management was aware of the situation, the security officer was advised of the inappropriate way it was handled and all associates will receive additional training to ensure this behavior is not repeated. Short Pump Town Center’s policies aim to support our family friendly values and we will work to ensure nursing parents are treated with the utmost respect. We responded to Ms. Cooper's complaint in person, with our apology, immediately after the incident happened as well as through a post on her page. Short Pump Town Center strives to offer a family friendly environment for shopping, dining and entertainment and we will continue to find ways to enhance the overall appeal of the center in order for our guests to feel welcome."
Cooper said she was happy that the mall apologized after the fact. She said she wants to make sure more mothers know their rights in Virginia when it comes to breastfeeding, and that more businesses train their staff in how to handle those situations appropriately.