A New York City mom’s decision to breastfeed her hungry child in her car while it was parked in a commercial zone left her with a $115 parking ticket and a nearly-towed vehicle — and now she’s calling out the traffic agent for punishing her for attending to her wailing infant.
“I understand it’s the law, but seriously, what am I supposed to do, let the child scream?” Guillermina Rodriguez told NY Daily News.
On the morning of Apr. 11, Rodriguez, 30, was dropping off her husband near Times Square for a dental appointment when her hungry three-month-old infant began crying in hunger. Struggling to find a parking spot in the bustling city center, Rodriguez pulled her Toyota Suburban into a commercial zone, then hopped into the back seat to breastfeed her daughter, Eliana Torres.
“I have to pull over to breastfeed her. I don’t wanna double park,” Rodriguez told The NY Daily News. “I see this commercial sign, but it says no standing, of course, but where are you going to find parking downtown?”
Two to three minutes after she had pulled into the commercial zone, Rodriguez says an NYPD traffic agent arrived with a tow truck preparing to haul her vehicle away. The mom honked her car to alert the agent that someone was in the car. Despite seeing her nurse her child, Rodriguez said, the agent hit her with a hefty $115 fine.
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“He looks inside, I’m showing him my breast, I’m breast-feeding the baby. He turned his head. He sees me but he still gives me the ticket,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez took a video of the incident, showing her breastfeeding Eliana, and the tow truck in front of her Toyota. “I’m here, breastfeeding my child, and he still gave me a ticket. Yep. Breastfeeding my baby, and he still gave me a ticket. Very nice,” she says in the video.
Outraged by the fine that she believes is “unnecessary” and “insensitive,” Rodriguez reached out to La Leche League, a nonprofit that encourages and advocates for breastfeeding mothers, and was later connected to breastfeeding counselor Laura Beth Gilman.
Gilman says that as a good mom, Rodriguez had no choice but to respond to her infant’s cries. “You’re genetically predisposed to respond to your baby’s cry. It’s supposed to make you crazy. You’re being a good mom if you respond,” Gilman told NY Daily News.
For this reason, Gilman says that traffic agents need to be better trained and treat these incidents like an emergency.
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“If she had a flat tire, would he have given her a ticket? If she had a health emergency … would he have given her a ticket? She had an emergency,” Gilman told the News. “She found the first safe spot she could and she rectified the emergency.”
Both Gilman and Rodriguez believe that the ticket should be thrown out. The NY Daily News reached out to an NYPD spokesperson who said that the department was looking into the matter.