A former art professor at Hunter College in New York City turned herself in to police on Thursday after she appeared to brandish a machete at a pair of New York Post reporters on Tuesday.
Shellyne Rodriguez, 45, appeared to wave a machete at a New York Post news crew who had visited her apartment building on Tuesday in an incident that was caught on camera. Footage appeared to show Rodriguez holding a bladed weapon at a New York Post reporter Reuven Fenton’s neck and telling him “get the [expletive] away from my door.” After Fenton and a photographer left Rodriguez’s apartment building, she appeared to follow the pair out the front of the building where dash-camera footage showed her chasing the photographer around with the machete.
A New York City Police Department (NYPD) spokesperson told NTD News that Rodriguez turned herself in at the police department’s 43rd Precinct in the Bronx on Thursday morning at around 7:20 a.m. The NYPD spokesperson said Rodriguez faces charges of menacing and harassment.
Fired From College Job
Rodriguez had been an adjunct assistant professor in Hunter College’s Art & Art History Department. Her departure from the university came after an altercation with students earlier this month and her armed encounter with the New York Post news crew.
Last week, pro-life organization Students for Life shared a video of Rodriguez confronting the students hosting a booth sharing their views on abortion at Hunter College.
“You’re not educating [expletive]. This is [expletive] propaganda,” Rodriguez said to the students. “What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? Is that what you’re going to do next?”
“I mean, no. We’re talking about abortion,” a male student at the booth replied.
“This is [expletive]. This is violent. You’re triggering my students,” she continued.
As the confrontation escalated, Rodriguez uttered more profanities as she vandalized the booth by flipping over and pushing materials off a table the students were using.
Hunter College reprimanded Rodriguez after the initial incident.
“Hunter does not tolerate such conduct by faculty. The Provost has completed an investigation and the faculty member has been appropriately disciplined,” Hunter College’s Communications Department told Breitbart earlier this week. “In addition, the faculty member has been warned that if the behavior reoccurs, there will be further consequences.”
The New York Post news crew tracked Rodriguez down after her initial altercation with the pro-life students. This visit led to Rodriguez’s armed confrontation with the reporters.
Hunter College again disavowed Rodriguez’s actions, this time cutting her position at the school.
“Hunter College strongly condemns the unacceptable actions of Shellyne Rodriguez, and has taken immediate action. Rodriguez has been relieved of her duties at Hunter College effective immediately, and will not be returning to teach at the school,” the college’s communications department said in an emailed statement to NTD News on Wednesday.
Incidents Have ‘Taken a Toll on My Mental Health’: Rodriguez
NTD News attempted to contact Rodriguez through attorneys who have represented her in a recent lawsuit (pdf) against the NYPD. Those attorneys did not respond by the time this article was published.
Rodriguez did reach out to ARTnews on Wednesday to share her side of the story after her alterations with pro-life students. She said the May 2 incident with the students involved the “use of profanity” and the “tossing [of] the postcards and the metal container of rubber fetuses” the students had at their booth.
Rodriguez did not directly address her armed encounter with the New York Post reporters but her spokesperson told ARTnews that Fenton and the cameraperson did not identify themselves, didn’t use the building’s intercom system to get in, and “appear to have been trespassing inside the building when they pounded on her door and started yelling at her through the door.”
The artist did tell the publication that recent incidents have “taken a toll on my mental health, robbing me of my sense of safety, and creating reasonable fear that they would show up at my home to cause me physical harm, as has happened with so many other women who have similarly had their personal info exposed as a form of politically motivated harassment.”
In addition to her work in the arts and academia, Rodriguez is a self-described “black Marxist,” a “community organizer,” and “an active member of radical grassroots collective Take Back the Bronx.”
Rodriguez was also involved in protests against police after George Floyd, a black man, died while being arrested by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020. Rodriguez is currently suing the NYPD in federal court, alleging police brutality at an “FTP4” protest event in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx on June 4.
According to her civil complaint (pdf), “‘FTP’ stands for many things, including ‘Free the People,’ ‘Feed the People,’ and, in the context of certain anti-police protests, ‘[expletive] the Police.’”
Rodriguez was arrested at the protest event and charged with violating a curfew. The curfew charges were dropped on Sept. 4, 2020.
The lawsuit identified Rodriguez as an artist who teaches at Hunter College. The complaint alleges that NYPD officers shoved her into a fence, pulled her hair, squeezed the back of her neck, flipped her around such that her back was against the gate, and then repeatedly punched her in the stomach. Her complaint states that officers also applied zip tie-style flex cuffs that were too tight, causing her nerve damage.
“The injuries to Ms. Rodriguez’s wrists continue to cause her pain, and to interfere with her ability to make art,” the lawsuit states.
Following the June 4 Mott Haven arrests, NYPD officials said some of the marchers were “screaming and yelling at officers, throwing plastic bottles with unknown liquids, and acting in a disorderly manner,” the New York Daily News reported. NYPD officials also claimed they recovered hammers, wrenches, gas masks, and “additional items that could be used to cause injuries” from among the protesters they arrested.
In a June 2020 interview with the Mott Haven Herald, Rodriguez acknowledged protesters also brought helmets and goggles because “we had seen the violence perpetrated against protesters.”
New York City recently settled with plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit stemming from the June 4, 2020 Mott Haven clash. Rodriguez’s lawsuit is set to continue in July.