Karina Gomez was told she couldn't breastfeed in the dressing room at a Portland Marshalls, so a group of mothers took action
One Oregon mom was “embarrassed” and “angry” when an employee at a Portland Marshalls made her breastfeed her baby in a store bathroom. So, a group of moms banded together and staged a “nurse-in” in protest.
On Saturday, Karina Gomez shared a Facebook photo of herself breastfeeding her young daughter in a bathroom stall after, she says, an employee at a Cascade Station Marshalls told her she couldn’t do so in a store dressing room.
“Yes, this is me sitting on a toilet feeding my sweet, Katalina Maria ” Gomez wrote in the post. “What a way to treat breastfeeding customers, shaming them for breastfeeding, making them feel embarrassed that you need to feed your child.”
“I am angry, upset, but more so humiliated. My rights have been violated.”
The post has amassed more than 30,000 likes and more than 26,000 shares from those outraged by the incident, including one Oregon mom who decided to take action.
Julianna Gjerman tells PEOPLE that she was “instantly angry” when she saw Gomez’s post, so she, along with a group of others, planned a “nurse-in” at the store.
“Everyone wanted [a nurse-in] to happen, but no one was setting a date or a time so I took the initiative to make it happen,” Gjerman says.
On Monday, about 25 moms (and some dads) showed up to the store, breastfeeding and sitting with their children inside, Gjerman tells PEOPLE. She said that the moms kept to themselves and the Marshalls employees left them alone.
She added that a few of the moms even did some shopping during the peaceful protest.
Although many mothers were immediately outraged by the incident, some were sympathetic towards the store.
“My question tho is did this momma speak to a manager?” Cassie Richey, who described herself as a mother of five, posted in the nurse-in’s Facebook event page. “Just doesn’t seem fair to shame a store or make a big deal if one employee, who may be inexperienced with such situations, denied her a fitting room ”
Marshalls did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE. But in a statement to KOIN 6, the company said it has a “breast feeding policy in place which instructs Associates to allow customers to breastfeed as they choose within stores.”
Administrators of the store’s Facebook account commented on Gomez’s photo with an apology, and directed the mom to contact its customer service team.
But Gjerman, a mother of one, says the apology is too little too late.
“It took them two days and for it to go viral before they apologized,” she tells PEOPLE of the company’s response to the incident. “I find that absurd and that they need to go further than an apology and begin better training for their employees. “