CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A woman who says she was escorted out of Thursday night's Brad Paisley concert for breastfeeding her baby is fired up over what happened.
Part of the incident at Sleep Train Amphitheatre was caught on video.
The 10-minute clip, posted on YouTube early Friday morning, shows the woman, later identified as Megan Christopherson, being confronted by an officer and then being removed from the pit area and taken outside. She has her baby in a carrier during the incident.
In the video, the Chula Vista police officer can be seen telling Christopherson that she needed to leave the area for the safety of the child. However, the woman tells the officer that, before she was pulled out, a security guard told her to stop breastfeeding, and even took a photo of her.
"Your child doesn't have hearing protection on," the officer can be heard saying. "The crowd is going to start surging forward. Where you're at, your child can get crushed. So we're afraid of your child getting crushed, and we're afraid of your child's eardrums being hurt, OK. That is borderline, probably, child endangerment."
"You have two options, they can reseat you somewhere else, where you can be safe, or you can get a refund on your tickets."
"Do you know that the security guards asked me to stop breastfeeding my child?" Christopherson asks.
"This has nothing to do with the breastfeeding… I'm explaining to you, it's your child getting crushed with everyone getting pushed forward."
Christopherson also claims to the officer that she was in the pit at a Tim McGraw concert a few weeks ago and was not asked to leave.
The officer offers to move her to a safer location or refund her ticket. Christopherson asks for a full refund.
The video has caused outrage because Christopherson believes she was singled out for breastfeeding her baby, who was strapped to her chest.
She told 10News she firmly believes security guards at the amphitheater and Chula Vista police used endangerment as a "cop out" after someone complained that she nursed her baby in public.
"I want to stand up for all nursing women and stand up for what's right," she said. "It was completely a cop-out. They're trying to cover this up because they know they legally cannot remove me for nursing."
Christopherson refused to take her children to seats farther away from the stage where Paisley was performing, choosing to leave the concert after her run-in with police.
This wasn't the first time she'd taken her infant to a concert. Christopherson said her daughters saw Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum perform at Sleep Train Amphitheatre with no issues, and questioned why she was allowed to bring the baby in at all, if it was such a dangerous place.
Carmen Cooley-Graham was in the same section as Christopherson, and she said although she wouldn't take an infant to a concert, Christopherson seemed like a good mom and her child Gracie seemed content.
She backed up Christopherson's belief that it was all about breastfeeding, not the child's safety. Two hours into the concert event, she said she was surprised when a security guard approached the young mother.
"All of the sudden they said we have complaints of you breastfeeding. Really?" said Colley-Graham.
Cooley-Graham said she believes a couple of young women who tried but couldn't watch the concert from the pit area reported Christopherson to security. She said after Christopherson was forced to leave, she saw one of the women high-fiving a security guard.
"Not once was this child showing any signs of distress," Cooley-Graham said. She told 10News everyone around her was "appalled by police."
"It's a country concert. I wasn't at a death metal or a rap concert," Christopherson told 10News. "I trust my mother's instinct that if my baby's ears hurt she would cry and then I would move."
Christopherson said she will seek the advice of an attorney, and that she plans to join other mothers at a "nurse-in" to be held outside Sleep Train Amphitheater in the near future.
Chula Vista police issued the following statement Friday morning regarding the incident:
Last night at the Brad Paisley concert, amphitheater security notified Live Nation Management that there was a female in the "pit" area with an infant baby strapped to her chest. The female was near the stage wall area and mere feet away from the speakers. Security asked the female patron to move from the "pit" area due to the danger to the infant child (crushing from potential crowd surge and excessive noise level from the adjacent speaker). The female refused to leave the area.
CVPD officers were summoned to the area to check the welfare of the infant. She was advised of the danger posed to her infant child (crowd surg e and excessive noise) if she remained in the pit area. She was presented with two options; she could be relocated to a seated area (free of charge) or receive a full refund. The female elected a full refund and left the venue.
The Chula Vista Police Department's involvement in the incident was due to the welfare and safety of the infant and not due to a mother's legal right to breastfeed in public.
The law does state that women can breastfeed anywhere in public where mothers are allowed to be. But police say the officer asked the mother to move her baby and her 8-year-old daughter to different seats to protect the baby from possibly getting crushed by the crowd or being harmed from the loud noise.
Christopherson says she's not done taking her daughters to concerts but she is done with the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.