Democrat Senate Candidate Allegedly Punched by Opponent at Abortion Rally
An abortion rights protest devolved into chaos in Rhode Island on Friday, after a state Senate candidate was apparently punched in the face by her Republican opponent.
“I’m a reproductive rights organizer & State Senate candidate. Last night, after speaking at our Roe rally, my Republican opponent—a police officer—violently attacked me,” Democrat candidate Jennifer Rourke tweeted on Saturday morning.
The alleged assailant, Jeann Lugo, is an officer in the Providence Police Department.
The department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, also tweeted on Saturday that it is “criminally investigating the behavior of an off duty officer last evening during a protest where a female was assaulted.” The officer was placed on paid administrative leave.
The mayor of providence, Jorge Elorza, said he could only make limited comments because of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, but noted that he had “seen the video” and found it “immensely disturbing.”
“Those responsible will be held fully accountable,” he added.
Video of the incident appeared to show Rourke being punched after a scuffle broke out when an apparent counter-protester was punched by another individual. Rourke had been pushing for the man to leave the scene.
The protest was otherwise generally peaceful, reports said.
Neither Rourke nor Lugo could immediately be reached for comment.
Speaking to Providence Journal reporter Amy Russo, Lugo alleged that Rourke had become “physical with him” in the moments leading up to the incident. Rourke “flatly” denied that claim, Russo said, adding that the progressive candidate filed a police report on Friday and intended to press charges.
Earlier on Friday, after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, Lugo had tweeted his view that some politicians were overreacting to the news by claiming that the decision was an “assault on Democracy.”
“This ruling by the Supreme Court does not remove the ability to have an abortion in the USA,” he wrote. “All it does is give the right to the states to decide for themselves, nothing more.”
According to his website, Lugo, 35, spent his teenage years in foster care before beginning a career in security. He spent more than a decade working for a security company before enrolling at the Providence Police Academy.
Lugo, whose Twitter account was deactivated on Saturday, is running on a platform of reduced taxes, foster care reform, and education overhaul. Prior to apparently deleting of his Twitter account, he had also retweeted videos of pro-life marches.
Rourke, for her part, has backed proposals for a Green New Deal in Rhode Island, a minimum wage increased to $19 per hour, free child care, and other progressive policies.
It remains to be seen whether Lugo will issue additional comments on the situation or whether he will remain in the senate race.
Source: The Daily Beast.