Above: video of an outraged bystander responding to Matthew Tringali’s attempts to shame their friend, who was accessing abortion services in Raleigh, NC, with a Super Soaker.
Matthew Tringali, a notorious forced-birth activist on whom BU has reported before, is leading the charge to stalk, harass, and intimidate a North Carolina teacher for the ‘crime’ of disagreeing with him about abortion.
According to Shana Broders, the unfortunate object of these attentions, her troubles began after she explained the word ‘misogynist’ to Tringali and some of his weird friends from Abolish Human Abortion (AHA), an extremist group that opposes even the most medically-necessary procedures as well as many forms of birth control, valuing the supposed lives of fetuses more than the women who carry them or the already-born children whose mothers might be ripped away by preventable deaths. Broders, who is also responsible for one of Tringali’s past arrests at the Raleigh clinic, was using the word correctly.
“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.
BU also reported on AHA and an associated group, Operation Save America, when they assembled in Alabama during July to protest outside the state’s abortion facilities and to decry the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery for labeling their bigoted anti-gay allies ‘hate groups.’ In addition to the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act violations that BU documented at the time, two associates of AHA/OSA were recently exposed posting images of patients in social media, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to lawsuits under the FACE Act.
Tringali is therefore not an outlier among his peers. As BU reported last October when the Super Soaker video circulated,
Clinic escorts refer to Tringali and his friends as a “terrorist group” because of their tactics. They threaten to harm volunteers’ jobs by picketing their workplaces, and because North Carolina law requires a “pattern” of threats from a single individual as threshold for a crime, they take turns making this same threat all week.
After all the appointments have entered the building every day, Tringali eats a snack and waits until they start coming out, at which point he enjoys shouting: “Congratulations, now you are the mother of a dead baby.”
Yesterday, the AHA Twitter account responded to my mention of the matter by admitting they have stalked and purposefully harassed Broders.
Due to AHA’s continued close relationships to people convicted of clinic violence, clinic volunteers must adopt stringent safety measures. Some train to use pseudonyms for one another in order to maintain their privacy, others must learn to watch out for cars tailing them home, and many take even more elaborate security measures to protect themselves from the violent, self-righteous zealots that Tringali calls ‘friends.’ As the AHA Twitter account says, they consider clinic volunteers ‘fair game’ in their war against reproductive health care access.
But if AHA thought that shaming and harassing Shana Broders would somehow hasten the closure of the Raleigh clinic, or make their own group more popular in the community, they are sorely mistaken. Broders tells BU that she has received outstanding support from her friends and colleagues, with nary a single negative comment; in fact, enthusiastic messages have poured in from around the country and even abroad. “It has been stunning, overwhelming and humbling the amount of love and support shown,” Broders says. If anything, her 22-year teaching career is more secure than ever.
Perhaps not expecting his efforts to backfire so spectacularly, Tringali failed to follow through on a threat to visit Broders’s school today. Instead, he was seen protesting outside a Methodist church in faraway Naperville, IL that AHA considers insufficiently opposed to abortion rights — another tactic for which they are despised in many communities where they have protested.
BU will continue to monitor this story.