Donnetta Foster broke down in tears as she retold her experience of being kicked out of the Decatur Library then later arrested by Decatur Police for disorderly conduct.
Foster claims she was in the Decatur Library last October using the computer when her child—1 year old at the time—laughed while playing with flash cards.
“No one around me flinched at the noise or seemed like they even heard the noise,” Foster said. “It was just the library officials who came over to me and said it was an issue.”
Shortly after her baby made the noise library officials told her that she needed to leave and then turned off her computer.
“I asked her if I could get back on [the computer] and she said she didn’t want to answer any more of my questions; she got really short with me and walked away. When I asked the security officer if I could get back on he didn’t say anything and got on the phone and called the police,” Foster said of library staff.
According to the police report, Foster was escorted out of the library and issued a criminal trespass warning and advised not to return. “Foster became irate, yelling in a loud and boisterous manner,” and was asked to leave again, which she did, the incident report states.
“Within minutes,” Foster came back onto the property “yelling and cursing,” and was told to leave again but instead “walked toward the Decatur Recreation Center and started yelling in a loud and boisterous manner,” according to the incident report She was then arrested in front of the center.
Foster claims that she was courteous both inside and outside the library, and didn’t become upset and loud until after she left the property.
She has chosen to contest the disorderly conduct charges and faces up to 12 months in prison if she is convicted. Her attorney, Mawuli Mel Davis, said that he filed a motion to dismiss the charges but the judge decided to move forward with a trial.
“She’s continuing a decision—which is basically what we believe—to exert her rights and take this case to trial. I think that’s part of what was missing throughout the process—she hadn’t been heard,” Davis said.
Foster claimed that the incident did not happen in the manner that it appears on the police report. She said the majority of the incident took place in front of the recreation center, not the library as the report says.
According to Foster’s lawyer, because she was not on library premises she had just as much a right to be in front of the recreation center as anybody else.
“This is a single mom who’s there pushing this child and for some reason, I just don’t imagine a traditional stay-at-home mom being treated the same way,” Davis said.
Foster said when she realized library staff had called police, she called police as well because she thought she was being treated unfairly. She was told that the same officer being sent in response to the library’s complaint would also be available to hear her side of the story.
When she was arrested in front of the recreation center, Foster claims she was waiting for a supervisor from the Decatur Police Department that she had requested to respond to the scene. She said she requested the supervisor because she thought she was receiving unfair treatment from the officers on the scene.
Foster, a freshman at Georgia Perimeter College, said that if the trial does not end in her favor she is worried it could drastically alter her and her son’s life.
“There has been a lot weighing on me. I keep on trying not to cry but it’s a lot, a lot going on at once,” Foster said.
Foster’s lawyer said that it was a gamble for her to take the case to trial rather than plead no contest and likely face a lesser punishment. However, Davis feels confident that once a jury hears both sides of the story she will be acquitted.
“I just felt like so many times young mothers are misunderstood and already have a label put on them,” Foster said.
“Ultimately, I decided that I would rather stand for what I know is right than not stand and be thrown to the side.”