An off-duty police officer and former Rhode Island Republican state Senate candidate allegedly attacked his Black female opponent during an abortion rights rally following the United States Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
The alleged attacker, Jeann Lugo, dropped out of the race Saturday afternoon (June 25) and is currently under investigation. “I will not be running for any office this fall,” he wrote on Twitter, before temporarily deactivating his account.
Rhode Island Political Cooperative co-founder and one of Lugo’s Democratic opponents, Jennifer Rourke, said that her opponent violently attacked her at the Friday night (June 24) rally outside the state house in Providence.
“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,” she wrote in a Tweet that included a video snippet of the incident. “This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won’t give up.”
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.pic.twitter.com/ZREDP2dvXY
— Jennifer Rourke (@JenRourke29) June 25, 2022
The video, which was taken by Bill Bartholomew, a local journalist who runs The Bartholomewtown Podcast, shows a man throwing two punches at a woman’s head. According to a campaign spokesman, Rourke went to a hospital in Kent, Rhode Island, on Saturday (June 25) for a CT scan.
The Providence Police Department tweeted Saturday (June 25) 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 not identified by name in the tweet and was said to be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The PPD is 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 yrs and placed on administrative leave w/pay this morning, pending a criminal investigation and administrative review
— Providence Police (@ProvidenceRIPD) June 25, 2022
“As an officer that swore to protect and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in. I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking,” Lugo said in a statement before dropping out of the Senate race. “At this moment, there’s a pending internal investigation, and as the facts of the incident come to light, I request that my family and I have privacy.”