Last summer, Shana Broders explained to a group of men protesting at a Raleigh women’s health clinic what a misogynist is.
“It was the first in a series of errors,” says the fifth-grade teacher and clinic escort from Wake Forest. “They were ridiculing me for teaching them a new word. I told them, ‘teaching is my first gift, you’re welcome.’ And dummy us, we use our real names.”
That’s how protesters from a group known as Abolish Human Abortion found out Broders is a teacher. It didn’t take them long to track down her school, where they call and harass whoever answers the phone, and her home address, where they threaten to show up.
And now AHA and its Raleigh ringleader, Matthew Tringali, have mounted a smear campaign against Broders on Facebook, using her school portrait and her own words welcoming her students back for the school year.
“That felt very invasive,” Broders said. “Frankly, I was trusting and I didn’t think anyone would do something like this to me.”
Broders, a mother of four, has been teaching for 22 years. Beloved by her students and their parents, she was named a top ten educator in Wake County in 2009-2010. When she’s not teaching, she volunteers as an escort at the Woman’s Choice of Raleigh clinic on Drake Circle, ideally situated for protesters because of its isolation and its wide parking lot.
Broders says Tringali and his crew—mostly older white men—have been protesting at the clinic on weekdays for two summers now. Tringali’s group has not yet responded to the INDY’s request for comment—check this blog for updates.
“He screams, he gets up in peoples’ faces, even when they ask him to stop, he won’t stop following them and screaming at them,” Broders said. “He wears a camera taped to his chest so he can videotape people. We often have to call the cops often because he pushes the line.”
AHA has threatened to show up at Broders’ school this evening during an open house, and on Monday for the first day of classes.
Wake County Public School System communications administrator Michael Yarbrough says Broders’ school is in contact with the Wake Forest Police Department, and that its usual security measures are in place. He said he couldn’t comment further on the situation.
Broders says Tringali has a personal vendetta against her, in part, she speculates, because she got him cited for trespassing last summer.
She says she’s sure his intention is to get her fired.
Tringali, who is originally from New York according to his Facebook page, was arrested this summer for second-degree trespassing at the Woman’s Choice clinic according to police records. He appears to travel around the country frequently, terrorizing women and their partners at abortion clinics and blogging about it.
Broders says she worries for the safety of her family and students, but that she is receiving an outpouring of support from her community.
“What I do in my personal life doesn’t have anything to do with my professional life,” Broders said. “I’m not sorry for what I do but my school doesn’t, because of my beliefs, deserve to be persecuted.”