Cop running for office punches his female opponent at abortion rights rally

Providence, Rhode Island - An off-duty police officer punched a woman twice in the face at an abortion rights rally in Providence, Rhode Island on Friday night.

People gathered outside the Rhode Island State House in Providence to protest the Supreme Court decision.
People gathered outside the Rhode Island State House in Providence to protest the Supreme Court decision.  © IMAGO / Icon Sportswire

Jeann Lugo, a cop who was running for a state senate seat as a Republican, assaulted Jennifer Rourke, an abortion rights activist who is running for the same seat as a Democrat, outside the Rhode Island State House.

The protest was one of many organized in all over the country after the US Supreme Court in Washington on Friday morning ended the constitutional right to an abortion.

The Providence police department said Saturday that Lugo had been suspended with pay. Law enforcement said it launched a criminal investigation into Lugo’s actions.

Rourke told The Providence Journal newspaper that she was hoping to press charges against Lugo.

Lugo wipes social media presence and drops out of race

Providence was one of many US cities to stage protests on Friday and Saturday.
Providence was one of many US cities to stage protests on Friday and Saturday.  © IMAGO / Icon Sportswire

Longer video of the incident, shot by a local journalist, showed far right provocateur Josh Mello filming the crowd. Several people loudly asked him to leave. But one man took matters into his own hands and attacked Mello, punching and shoving him to the ground. No one joined the attack.

With Mello on the ground, Lugo turned around and randomly punched Rourke in the face.

"It was very chaotic, so I can’t really tell you right now. Everything happened very fast," Lugo told the Journal.

Lugo tweeted Saturday that he was ending his political campaign. He then quickly deleted his account. Rourke had a different response.

"To me, this feels like an act of political violence similar to the acts of violence that we have seen across the US," Rourke told the Journal. "I’m a Black woman running for office. There was no need, no need for any of this. I’m not going to give up."

Although Rourke and Lugo were running for the same state senate seat, they were not yet direct opponents. Rhode Island’s primary elections aren’t until September. The seat representing Rhode Island Senate District 29 is currently held by Michael McCaffrey, a Democrat.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire

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