On Friday, June 24th, Afrykayn Moon stood waiting in line for the 11:50am 275 SMART Bus from Meijer in Taylor, Michigan (outside Detroit) north to Pontiac. While she waited for the hour long bus ride, Moon quietly nursed her two week old son in a football hold, supported by her Moby Wrap. With her, she had two car seats for the ride, a stroller, and her three year old daughter.
As the SMART bus pulled up, the others waiting in line before her boarded. She approached the bus, and the driver, Darcell, looked at Moon with a puzzled. "What IS that?!" she asked. "What is that you're holding that way?! I know that's not a baby..." she said to Moon, leaning over for a better look. "Ah... is that a titty?!" Darcell shrieked.
"Yes," Moon replied. "That is my son. I am feeding my son."
"You're going to have to cover that up!" Darcell ordered Moon, who continued to nurse as she helped her three year old onto the bus, and pulled her items aboard.
"You're going to have to cover THAT up!" Darcell repeated two additional times - the order becoming more forceful.
Moon said that she would not cover or stop nursing her baby and offered to give the driver the laws of Michigan which state (Mich. Comp. Laws § 41.181, § 67.1aa and § 117.4i et seq.):
Federal law also protects Moon and her nursing newborn when they are on property otherwise funded with any federal dollars (Public Law No: 106-58 (Sec. 647) if she and her child are otherwise permitted to be there.Public nudity laws do not apply to a woman breastfeeding a child.
Darcell told Moon she would have to call her in to Dispatch. While Moon did not hear the call, or what was said, Dispatch told Darcell to remove Moon from the bus. Moon refused.
Until she got off the bus, Darcell announced she would not be moving the bus. Other passengers began to complain - many would be late for work.
Moon's newborn son finished nursing, and she put him up on her shoulder. Darcell started the bus and took off.
At the next stop, Darcell had uniformed officers come onto the bus to remove Moon and her babies. Her baby was no longer nursing, but an officer asked Moon anyway, "Ma'am, are you done?"
Moon replied, "For now. But if he gets hungry again, I will feed him again. This is an hour bus ride. If he gets hungry before the hour is up, I am going to feed him."
Darcell put the bus in park and ordered everyone off. Moon refused to move again. Everyone sat. Eventually, Darcell decided to pull the bus away, but noticed Moon's two car seats, stroller, and three year old sitting along side her. "You can't leave that stroller sitting against the seat that way," she told Moon. Another gentleman got up to help move the stroller to the back of the bus. Yet, when he got off at his stop, the harassment continued.
Moon's beautiful, blessed children:
Her three year old daughter, and newborn son who she nurses on cue.
Moon says that with her YouTube video (below), she had planned to "put my baby in a football hold, and put my Moby Wrap on, and show everybody on this video that - look! - you can't really see anything, and [Darcell] didn't have any reason for saying that, because I really wasn't that exposed."
However, Moon, continued, "If I do that, then that really takes away from what my point is. And my point for doing this video is not to show you how much of my breast was showing, or how much was not showing. The point of the matter is, as a mother, I should have the right to feed my child, period. I have the right to feed my child if we're out. I should be able to feed him without being harassed by the bus driver; Without having the bus driver call the police on me; Without having the bus driver's dispatch try to put me off the bus."
Moon says that there were five other women on the bus at the same time as this ordeal took place. "Doing things like that would discourage another mother from every wanting to breastfeed! ...We don't need mothers to keep from nursing! We need to keep promoting mothers nursing! That is the healthiest way to take care of your child. And things like this are going to keep a new mother, or a mother who is already hesitating, from nursing."
Moon is correct when she asserts that, "Something needs to be done. What I experienced was completely rude - was completely disrespectful. Especially coming from another woman."
In response to the harassment Moon and her little ones endured, a nurse-in is planned for this coming Friday, July 1st, to take place at the Oakland County SMART Bus Terminal (details below and on the Facebook event page). Please support Moon, her newborn son, and nursing babies and mothers everywhere, by contacting SMART to let them know this is, without question, not the way to treat breastfeeding mothers and their babies. And thank you for nursing in public!
SMART Bus Phone Number: 866-962-5515
Mr. John C. Hertel, General Manager
535 Griswold Street., Ste. 600
Detroit, MI 48226
Oakland County SMART Bus Terminal Nurse-In
Date: Friday July 1, 2011
Time: 9:00am -12:00pm
Location: Oakland County SMART Bus Terminal
UPDATE:NIP and Breastfeeding Advocacy Shirts Available at Made By Momma
SMART released the following statement in response to this incident:
SMART released the following statement in response to this incident:
As the regional transit provider, SMART works hard to ensure our services are safe, convenient and reliable and that we comply with all appropriate federal and state laws. As such, SMART supports a mother's right to breastfeed her child. It is our policy to permit this activity on all SMART buses.
We have taken the recent complaint very seriously and are investigating the full incident. The driver involved in the situation has been taken out of service pending conclusion of our investigation.
SMART is southeast Michigan’s only regional transit system serving Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. Recognized nationally as an innovator in community based service for its unique partnerships with 75 communities, SMART is posting record ridership with nearly 12 million passengers using the service annually.
WOW...That woman makes me proud to be part of the human race!ReplyDelete
This needs to stop. Not only is breastfeeding the healthiest, most natural, and the normal way to feed an infant, a woman's right to nurse AND a baby's right to eat are protected federally and in almost every state.ReplyDelete
heartbreaking. what a brave and beautiful Mama!ReplyDelete
"The point of the matter is, as a mother, I should have the right to feed my child, period. I have the right to feed my child if we're out. I should be able to feed him without being harassed by the bus driver; Without having the bus driver call the police on me; Without having the bus driver's dispatch try to put me off the bus."ReplyDelete
Could this woman be any more awesome!!?
Oh come on people... Breasts are for feeding babies. That's what they're designed for. That's WHY women have them.ReplyDelete
What a great role model! I wish I were in Michigan to participate in this nurse-in!ReplyDelete
You go Mama! I don't know that I would have been that brave to stand up to that man.ReplyDelete
This is OUTRAGEOUS. What if this had happened to someone who did not know their rights?ReplyDelete
Soooo ridiculous! If I were in Michigan I would partake in this protest. I hope the bus driver's own mother set him straight!ReplyDelete
Wow, this is truly a sick man, who would look at a mother nursing, as an act of indecency.ReplyDelete
SK, I'm sure it happens all the time. I'm sure they are humiliated and hesitant to nurse ever again. It's a sad world we live in when a mother can't feed her baby. As sicknened as I am to hear about the bus driver and all of the people on the bus who didn't stand up for this mother, I'm thrilled to hear the mother didn't back down!ReplyDelete
Amen sister. Something does need to be done.ReplyDelete
good on you moon, very brave dont give up because of people like thatReplyDelete
This is horrible! I'm beginning to wonder if the day women can breastfeed their babies in public without fear will ever come in my lifetime.ReplyDelete
Oh, and YOU GO GIRL!
I just watched your video on you tube.ReplyDelete
So sorry to hear you were treated this way. It is an outrage that women are being treated this way just because they are feeding their babies.
This would have come in handy. Check it out!
Called and left a voicemail. Hopefully our comments from those of us too far away to attend with also prompt this organization to do some mandatory training about breastfeeding for all their employees, and keep it as a permanent part of company culture.ReplyDelete
I didn't mention this in my comments, but wouldn't it be great if they promised to post the breastfeeding friendly symbol in every bus, and every bus terminal?
To the mom, my best wishes to you and your beautiful family. Hope you're feeling ok after this difficult experience!
This woman is AMAZING!!! My heart breaks for what she's went through, but WOW- what courage!! As supportive as I am of breast-feeding, I fear I may have caved under all that pressure & took my child off the breast. I am so very proud of her!!! What an inspiration!!!ReplyDelete
I think the other people, especially the women, should be ashamed for not defending her on the bus. Shame on the bus driver especially. I certainly would not stand silent if a woman was harrased like so in my community.ReplyDelete
Diana, it's worth pointing out that the driver was another female. :(ReplyDelete
Just had to say this woman is so strong to stand up for what is right in the face of such harassment. I went right over and filed a complaint against the SMART Bus company and will never use them for anything. It is completely uncalled for. This mom is strong! I'm going to breastfeed my son anywhere, whenever he wants it and no one can tell me otherwise. Go Afrykayn Moon for being so awesome!ReplyDelete
This is so crazy! Something definitely needs to be done. Besides a formal apology from the driver, the company, and the police I think it would be nice if you received an honory doctorate in education! Like you said, we need to encourage breast feeding----not to mention manners! Your courage and message is inspirational. God Bless you!ReplyDelete
How disappointing that it was another woman that caused so much trouble. And how sad is it that it was in front of her 3 yo daughter to boot! I wonder why the police even accepted to get on board... I think she deserves an apology from them also! I wish I was there, I'd attend a nurse-in.ReplyDelete
i can't believe i read that!!! didn't realise how different things are from canada to the united states! in canada, we not only breastfeed in public but we do not cover up as its promoted to encourage the bond between mother and child to have eye contact during feedings!! good job momma for not giving in!! not like life isn't exhausting enough with littles ones, u definately don't need to deal with ignorance like that!ReplyDelete
Gosh. The bus driver has got a problem with a woman feeding a baby the way he was intended to be fed, nature's perfect 'formula', she thinks that's nasty and sexually explicit. But she has no problem saying the word 'titty' and in public to a stranger?! Warped.ReplyDelete
You are an inspiration Moon!ReplyDelete
I think it's disgusting that the SMART Bus drivers think that they have that power over people. I myself recently had been subjected to being threatened by a SMART bus driver because I carried two extra bags on board of the bus, and this was the SMART ADA BUS!!!! So Good for you girl!!!! Dont give up!!!! I'm not!!!! I'm still fighting them!!! GBU all!!!ReplyDelete
OMG - I am in shock at this outrage - I am a student Midwife & I were on that Bus I would have been supporting & standing up for that mum!ReplyDelete
I would be at that Bus Station on Friday if I was not so far away. Good luck to you all.
"Your Complaint No. is 66469. The appropriate action will be taken."ReplyDelete
I filed a complaint, and I hope others will do so.
Very,very brave. I hope, if it were to happen to me that, I would be brave enough to stand up for me and my baby. God Bless you!ReplyDelete
OUTRAGEOUS! WAY TO STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS, MAMA! Supposedly, "Detroit Metro's SMART Bus Makes Mass Transit Easy!" unless you're a nursing mother then you're going to get hassled and harrassed. Writing to DEMAND they not only support nursing on their buses but also HELP nursing mothers and all mothers with their gear. It takes a village damn it all!ReplyDelete
I can't believe the bus driver was a *woman*!ReplyDelete
You rock. Thank you for standing up for your rights as a mother and mothers everywhere, and for your son. I wish I was going to be in the area, and I would totally attend.ReplyDelete
I was shocked that the driver was a female and shame on her! I was sad to hear that other women on the bus didn't tell the bus driver to drop it and drive! Moon, you are very brave and strong! I nurse in public all the time (I have three children) and have only had trouble once and made sure no one else would at that location. I wish I could be there for the nurse-in!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this post. I took the time to click the link and complain to the Michigan bus service. Please feel free to do the same, and steal from my text if you like:ReplyDelete
Complaint link: http://www.smartbus.org/Smart/Contact%20Smart/cmpform.aspx
Date of occurrence: 6/24/2011
Time: 11:50 AM
Route: 752 - Northbound
Bus number: 275
"Did you SERIOUSLY try to evict a nursing mother from a bus for feeding her baby? The driver of that bus needs to be suspended, as her clearly harassed this mother and her children. He also needs to be sent to some sort of training to ensure this does not happen again. What is your posted policy on breastfeeding? Are you aware of the Michigan ((Mich. Comp. Laws § 41.181, § 67.1aa and § 117.4i et seq.) as well as FEDERAL law (Public Law No: 106-58 (Sec. 647) protect her as a nursing mother? i would like a reply on this matter, and I would like to know what steps you have taken to discipline this driver and ensure this does not happen again. Unacceptable, and frankly, APPALLING."
I am so sorry you had to go through that. You sound like a very smart person who had to deal with a very, very stupid bus driver. I hope that something good can come out of this and your humiliation wasn't in vain. That bus driver needs to get her head out of the gutter. Only someone with negative thoughts would have that response.ReplyDelete
children needs to be feed there is nothing wrong with what she has done. very good approach.ReplyDelete
Moon, I am in tears for you girl! You are such a strong woman and a great role model! Tanya, thank you for adding that link and posting your note! Hugs! BethReplyDelete
This is so NOT OK! How dare someone tell her she can't feed her baby on the bus, and for those who think mothers should feed their children in the bathroom shame on you too! I ask you...Do you eat in the bathroom? NO, no you don't!ReplyDelete
"In response to the harassment Moon and her little ones endured, a nurse-in is planned for this coming Friday, July 1st, to take place at the Oakland County SMART Bus Terminal"
If you're in MI, please go make a stand and demand a change!
In the meantime, I'm gonna file a complaint from OR
Very awesome Moon!! WTG!!ReplyDelete
I wish I lived closer I'd so be there! Good Luck :)!!
Wonderful to see this posted here! I am so glad the story is being told far and wide. I posted about on my blog too: http://bayareabreastmilk.com/breast-is-best/breastfeeding-mother-asked-to-get-off-the-busvReplyDelete
I have my hero for the day. :)ReplyDelete
1st off Moon Im so sorry you where treated this way :(ReplyDelete
I am sitting here nursing my 6 week old lil girl as I type this :) I am org from the downriver area(we now live south of battle creek) If would soo be at the nurse in if I can come up with the extra gas money to drive home.
I have been treated like the plaque and like a queen while nursing my babies. I have nursed 4 children all over the age of 1.. My oldest has downs sydrome and I was told he would never nurse
we as woman were blessed with a super power to make milk to feed our babies. Boobs here in the USA have been seen as sex objects for too LONG.. It is time that their true purpose is seeen..
BOOBIES ARE FOR BABIES
Wouldn't it be nice if one day people got upset that a child was having a bottle of manufactured gunk stuffed in a baby's mouth instead of about a mother giving her child what God intended every baby to eat! Kudos for your guts to stand up for what is right for your baby!ReplyDelete
You are amazing and strong and doing the right thing!!! Good for you Mama!!!ReplyDelete
I sent an email (complaint #66538) and here's what I said:ReplyDelete
I have heard the story of one of your bus drivers trying to bully a mom off the bus for breastfeedling her young baby.I think it is important for all United States citizens to educate themselves in the law and the rights of the baby and mother. I would like to say this… "Please try explaining to the 2 week old BABY why she or he can't get fed when hungry no matter where they are located!" I would think happy baby = happy bus riders.
Thanks for being so strong!ReplyDelete
I can NOT believe they wanted you to either starve your baby or find other transport! And on top of it you had your other child with you as well. They should be ashamed for harassing a mother just trying to take of her two children and get someplace on public transport. I will complain to them right now.ReplyDelete
The bus driver should lose her job!ReplyDelete
This follow-up at Progressive Parenting is really interesting (if not also maddening):ReplyDelete
I cannot BELIEVE that now there are people denying what occurred. How can we do such things and then somehow twist blame back onto the mother!?
Moon - you are a hero. Keep your head up girl!
Good for her for standing up for her rights. When I breastfed my first child 4yrs ago, I was so timid and scared that someone was going to say something that I only ever nursed in bathrooms or the backseat of my car (when parked). Since then I’ve come to realize that babies have the right to eat anywhere anytime just like everyone else.ReplyDelete
Who would throw a mother off the bus for feeding her child? That is absolutely ridiculous. Props to Ms. Moon for standing up for her and her child! If anyone should have been removed from that bus, it should have been the driver.ReplyDelete
Behaviour such as that of the bus driver should be AUTOMATIC grounds for dismissal. This is ILLEGAL, discriminatory behaviour and it is NOT in the public’s best interests, either. It violates both the mother’s and the baby’s Civil Rights. Some SERIOUS retraining is needed on the part of this transportation company, post haste.ReplyDelete
Rosa Parks and Afrykayn Moon. Thank God we have courageous women willing to take a stand for human rights in our country.ReplyDelete
Outrageous! Good for her to stand up to such harassment. I am American but live in Germany and I breastfed my baby in restaurants, park benches, a lawn behind a church, wherever! No one ever gave me a hard time. I do hope the tides turn in the States. Brave, beautiful woman!ReplyDelete
I submitted a complaint form. Hopefully, they'll do the right thing. The driver is getting paid for not even working, what does that say? They need to fire her, she broke both state and federal law and should not get away with it! If it were me, I'd sue both the driver and the company.ReplyDelete
Here is what my message to the company said:ReplyDelete
I am writing in concern of the incident that took place on the 275 SMART Bus from Meijer in Taylor, north to Pontiac, in which the young mother with two small children was harassed by one of your drivers, a Ms. Darcell. I know you have placed the driver on leave, but really, how is giving her PAID leave going to teach her that she can't treat another young mother that way? That driver BROKE THE LAW, both state AND federal law, and she should be dealt with accordingly! If I were the young mother who was harassed, both the driver and your company would be facing a court case. We cannot allow nursing mothers to be treated this way, and your company has the chance to do the right thing and make a positive example from this. FIRE THAT DRIVER, AND SEND A MESSAGE THAT YOUR COMPANY PROTECTS IT'S MOST VULNERABLE PASSENGERS! Thank you for your time, and I hope that you can see a way to turn this into something positive for the mothers of Michigan.
THANK YOU, MOON, FOR STANDING UP FOR THE RIGHTS OF BABIES AND MOTHERS!
Wow, what a great role model and mother!! I am sorry for the harassment that she faced, but so proud that she stood up for her rights to feed her baby. It is shameful that this should happen to a nursing Mom.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Moon. I pray thousands show up for your nurse in.ReplyDelete
This kind of stuff really angers me,breastfeeding a baby is so natural. society sees nothing wrong with using breasts to sell beer yet they do when it comes to the most natural way to feed our babies. Grow up people.ReplyDelete
I live in St. Louis and I filed a complaint on the SMART bus web site for you, too. That is unbelievable. They need a comprehensive training program for all employees - drivers, dispatchers, security, floor sweepers -- everyone. I am so very sorry this happened to you, but thankful you stood your ground. Good job, Mommy!!!ReplyDelete
this was an outrageous occurence-that bus driver needs to apologize and be fired, plus the company and police need to apologize to Moon. She was feeding the baby the best and most natural way.besides it was legal.ReplyDelete
I breastfed four kids for 3 years.
After all this is America-land of the FREE.
They were treating her like the blacks were treated in the sixties-(even the stroller had to go to the back of the bus) I am glad she stood up for her rights.
I hope this is resolved and not happen again.
She's a hero for all of us, and a champion for our babies. I hope I have half as much courage as she does if I ever have to face down that kind of ignorance.ReplyDelete
I hope someone contacted the Mall, too for a comment and apologies. What were their Security doing on the bus asking Ms.Moon to leave? They apparently need a refresher of the law too. Good for her for knowing and standing up for her rights!ReplyDelete
GOOD MOMMA.... you tell them!ReplyDelete
"This activity" good lord. As horrendous as it is that this happened, I'm so glad it happened to a woman with such strength and confidence. She knew her rights, she stood up for herself and her baby, an when it was done she brought the incident to the public's attention. Like a PP said, she makes me PROUD to be a woman, a mother, and a public breast feeder. I bet she has inspired a lot of other women to stand up for their rights. Side note, I just love her name :)ReplyDelete
some of you really need to read the article better. the bus driver was a WOMAN, not a man.ReplyDelete
Thank you for standing up for all of us nursing moms. I know it probably won't happen, but I wish the ignorant b__ch would lose her job! How awful for you to have to go through that!ReplyDelete
Thank you for setting an example for all moms and companies that the baby is the most important person in this situation. Breast milk is best. No one can argue this. 30 yrs ago my husband and I went to dinner with our newborn. I did have her covered, and they sat us in a back room away from everyone until another family came in. When the Mother realized I was nursing she made a scene (afraid her teen son might see what a breast is meant for). I found it ironic that we were quiet, and no one realized I was nursing or even had a newborn until this other person made a scene. Reminds me of the bus driver. She's the one that brought attention to this situation!ReplyDelete
Thank You! for stand up. for the law and what was right. But NOT once did the Smart Bus Co.ReplyDelete
Apologize to the Young Mother. If it was the Law and they knew this. Apologize to her. And let the other young women get the right training.
Approximately 2 years ago my family and I visited a local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant for dinner, my daughter at that time was about 6 months old. We had picked the kids up from the daycare and went to the local home improvement store , we hadn't planned the trip so the diaper bag was still at home. We decided to take our kids out to dinner since it was getting late( we have 4 total). We were seated and my daughter started to get fussy so I took my coat( wool coat) layer it over my front and shoulders and began nursing her. Waiter come up took drink orders, had a waitress walk by and made a comment about having to the same thing sometimes. A fewinutes later I had a female manager approach me and tell me that she can not allow me to do that in the restaurant that I needed to go to the bathroom !!! I got upset and asked her if she would eat her dinner in urine and feces? Why would you want me to feed my baby in urine? She said that she couldn't allow me to do that in the restaurant. I stood up and informed my husband we were leaving , I was not going to give my moony to an establishment that discriminates, I walked out with the district managers number called and left a message . This company never contacted me until the second news station contacted them for interview. Their first response via phone was that they have to respect their patrons and that if they feel uncomfortable ... Basically he stated it is ok to impede on my daughters right to eat. The second response came with that they do have rules or protocol in place that if another patron feels uncomfortable that they would move that person to another table. They called me a week after that interview and apologized and stated what they put in place so this doesn't happen Again and offered me gift certificates for their restaurant. Later I found out a friend of mines daughter worked for the one in Novi and they had a meeting in regards to this situation and the company denied that I was told to go the bathroom !??ReplyDelete
Michigan is way behind in making this an actually civil rights violation , th year this happened to me a bill was suppose to go inregard to this and nothing has happened has we can see. The police aren't even versed on what a nursing mothers rights are, they shouldn't of wasted the manpower to intervene and should of just informed the bus company of the law!
I feel it is crazy that woman can walk around with their breast hanging out or butt checks hanging out of their clothes and are rarely asked to leave an establishment or get kicked off the bus, but yet a baby nursing, the way god/ nature intended is considered a lewd act of indecent exposure!!!
Hi sorry Moon :( my own sister is a nurse and told me how "disgusting " i was to want to breastfeed then actually do it. she called me Gross , disgusting ,you name it .ReplyDelete
funny my children aren't bouncing off the walls so to speak like hers do , could be parenting also but in my heart I know the difference.
over 90% of breast fed children dont have issues . best of luck to you and your beautiful children !
Wow this is terrible. Breast feeding should be aloud anywhere! I hope you keep with the fight sister, Keep on doin what your doin :)ReplyDelete
I was a 19 year old mother, timid about everything except my right to breastfeed in public. I would tell anyone off if they wanted me to stop nursing my child. Strangers, family, friends you name it. They wished that they had never brought the subject up after I got through with them. One night at childrens hospital a attendant(a woman) came into our room at 2 in the morning and told me to cover up. The look I gave had her leaving the room in a hurry. I ask if all traces of formula left this earth today, how many mothers can stand up with pride and say no problem, today is like any other. And how valuble would our " activity, indecency, problem, and "titties" be to every man, woman, and child. Thank you Moon for your courage. "Have milk, will travel"ReplyDelete
You are so articulate and tell this story so well. You are perfectly diplomatic....never losing your cool while holding your ground. I never would have been able to hold it together like that, especially at two weeks postpartum. Good for you and I'm so sorry that your little girl had to watch her mother get treated so poorly.ReplyDelete
She and her children are beautiful and she was absolutely correct in everything she did. I would like to believe that I would have done the same thing, but I probably would have broken down crying.ReplyDelete
It's not that she's especially couragous, it's that people who don't stand up for their rights are especially cowardly. Thank goodness some people are normal.ReplyDelete
You don't think it takes courage to stand up for your rights when no one in a crowd of people around you seems aware of those rights? When a person in a power position is manipulating that captive crowd of people to see *you* as the problem and the reason they will now possibly get in trouble with their employers? I think it does.ReplyDelete
It's not especially cowardly people who don't stand up for their rights in situations like these are. It's typical people. People who don't feel able to endure how awful it might get for them if such a situation escalates.
If Moon's behavior was actually representative of typical folks, and *not* standing up was representative of "especially cowardly", no one would have a reason to read or write this story. Everyone would see folks saying and doing things like this every day.
Or, maybe we'd even be at a place in our society where no one had need any more to have to stand up.