Rhode Island officer arrested in alleged assault of Senate opponent at abortion rally

Jennifer Rourke, who is a Democratic Senate candidate for Rhode Island, was reportedly punched in the face by her Republican opponent, who is a police officer. He was off-duty when this incident took place.

Rourke said she was trying to resolve an issue with counterprotester “when my Republican opponent Jeann Lugo punched me multiple times in the face.”

The incident was caught on video and appears to show Rourke stepping into an altercation at the protest and almost immediately after, getting punched in the face.

Rourke Tweeted after the incident: “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. This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won’t give up.”

“Following the demonstration, the Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police Department received complaints of physical assaults that occurred during the demonstration. As the result of a joint investigation between the two agencies, a Providence Police Patrolman, identified as Jeann Lugo, age 35, was arrested on a State Police affidavit and arrest warrant on the charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct,” the Rhode Island State Police said in a statement.

The Providence Police Department said Saturday in a statement on Twitter that it was “criminally investigating the behavior of an off-duty officer last evening during a protest where a female was assaulted. The officer has served for 3 years and placed on administrative leave w/pay this morning, pending a criminal investigation and administrative review.”

The department confirmed in a later tweet that Lugo was “the off-duty officer involved in this incident.”

Lugo said in a now deleted tweet that he is stepping down from the state Senate race. “I will not be running for any office this Fall,” Lugo said. Lugo’s Twitter account is no longer available.

CNN reached out to the Providence Fraternal Order of Police to inquire about possible legal representation for Lugo but did not hear back Saturday night.

“Political violence like this is exactly why people like me often don’t run for office. Working-class candidates and Black and Brown candidates face violence and threats all across the country,” Rourke said in a statement.

Authorities confirmed that two other people were arrested at the rally.




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