In early June, the wife of a Belgian diplomat attempted to breast-feed her young daughter on the terrace of a New York country club, setting off a chain of events that would lead to the woman and her husband being escorted from the club and treated like "terrorists" by police.
According to Tom Neijens, the first secretary of the Belgian Mission to the UN, the Metropolis Country in White Plains, New York allowed his family, who are not members, to eat lunch on the club's terrace. Once the family was seated, Neijens's wife, Roseline Remans, began to breast-feed their daughter, Luka.
Almost immediately, a manager at the club approached Remans. "She said, ‘Please leave immediately, you are disturbing the members,'" Neijens told the New York Post.
Remans said the feeding would only take a few minutes, but the manager insisted that she finish in the restroom. "You don’t ask a person to have lunch in the restroom — why would you ask a baby to have lunch there?" Neijens said.
So the club, being reasonable, called the Greenburgh police department, who arrived minutes later, reportedly shouting “Close the doors!” and ordering other diners to leave the club's terrace.
“[Detective Scott Harding] was walking as if he was acting in a Western movie,” Neijens said. “He had one hand on his gun, one hand on his taser.”
The police's reaction was caused, in part, by reports from other diners at the club, who said Neijens's black backpack made him look like a "terrorist." As for the baby, Detective Harding reportedly told Neijens that, "In Sri Lanka, babies are used by terrorists.'
Once Harding saw Neijens's State Department-issued ID, he calmed down, becoming almost apologetic, and the family was eventually escorted out of a backdoor, without any arrests or charges.
After the incident, Neijens wrote a letter to the country club, asking for an apology.
"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," he wrote.
The club didn't respond, and its general manager declined to comment to the Post.
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