Artist Shellyne Rodriguez Reaches Plea Deal in Case Over Menacing Charge

Shellyne Rodriguez, an artist who earlier this year was terminated by New York’s Hunter College after staring down anti-abortion activists and holding a machete to a New York Post reporter, took a plea deal on Monday.

Through the deal, her misdemeanor charge of menacing will be withdrawn after she completes six months of behavioral therapy, Hyperallergic reports. She had also been charged with harassment, which is not considered a crime in New York.

In May, footage of Rodriguez confronting activists with Students for Life of America, a nonprofit group that identifies as “one of the leading pro-life advocacy organizations in the world,” went viral after it was posted by that organization. Rodriguez acknowledged that she had used profanity and that she had tossed elements of their displays during the incident.

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Rodriguez said at the time that Hunter College had asked her to apologize for it and that she had done so. But once Students for Life of America “manipulated” video of the event and “mobilized their members and supporters to attack me,” she had “been inundated with vile and hateful emails, texts, and voicemails nonstop.”

Videos of Rodriguez’s confrontation with the activists and the reporter were covered in great detail in outlets such as the New York Post, Fox News, and Breitbart News. Since the start of May, the Post has run more than 30 articles about Rodriguez, including one in which it labeled her “unhinged” in a headline.

Post reporter Reuven Fenton published an article that featured footage of him visiting Rodriguez’s apartment in the Bronx. He said he had identified himself as a journalist; she said he and his cameraperson did not use the intercom to get in. In the video, she appears to emerge from behind a door, holding a machete to him.

Shortly after Fenton’s article ran, Rodriguez was terminated first by Hunter College, where she worked as an adjunct professor, and then by the School of Visual Arts, where she also taught. Rodriguez said at the time that Hunter had “capitulated” to “racists, white nationalists, and misogynists.”

Many decried Hunter and SVA’s responses. Artists Guadalupe Maravilla, Nari Ward, and Xaviera Simmons were among those who signed a letter protesting the schools’ treatment of Rodriguez. “The craven hypocrisy of these self-described progressive institutions exposes the emptiness of their articulated commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” that letter reads. “In the face of racist, homophobic attacks, Hunter and SVA failed to stand by a beloved professor, and their stated values.”

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