Democratic Senate candidate Jennifer Rourke hit in the face by GOP opponent Jeann Lugo at abortion meeting

Written by Javed Iqbal

A protest over abortion rights developed into chaos in Rhode Island on Friday after a state candidate for the Senate was apparently slapped in the face by his Republican opponent.

“I’m an organizer of reproductive rights and a candidate for the Senate. Last night, after speaking at our Roe meeting, my Republican opponent – a police officer – attacked me violently,” said Democratic candidate Jennifer Rourke. tweeted Saturday morning.

The alleged assailant, Jeann Lugo, was confirmed as the involved officer by the Providence Police Department.

In a speech to The Daily Beast, Rourke said she is a board member of the organization that helped organize Friday’s convention. After giving a speech, she said, she stepped aside and noticed a quarrel that took place with a counter-protester, whom she urged to leave the premises. (Video of the incident appeared to show the counter-demonstrator suddenly being beaten by another person.)

Almost immediately after, Rourke said she herself was beaten – apparently by Lugo.

“I just kept saying, ‘He hit me.’ He hit me, “she remembered.” And he ran away. “She said she had never had a conversation with the free officer before.

Lugo, whose Twitter account was disabled periodically on Saturday, tweeted that he would no longer “run for office in the fall” after the incident. Friday’s protest was otherwise generally peaceful, reports said.

Providence Police The department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, also tweeted on Saturday that it “criminally investigates the behavior of an officer on duty last night during a protest in which a woman was assaulted.” The officer was put on paid administrative leave.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, said he could only make limited comments because of the law enforcement authorities’ Bill of Rights, but noted that he had “seen the video” and found it “extremely disturbing.”

“Those responsible will be held fully accountable,” he added.

Lugo could not be immediately reached for comment.

Rourke told The Daily Beast that she has suffered from concussion-like symptoms and has been in contact with Providence police to bring charges. She went to the hospital over the weekend to receive a preventative CT scan, she said, and doctors asked her to return if her symptoms worsen.

“Incidents like this are the reason many black and brown candidates are not running for office,” she added.

Talking to Providence Journal Reporter Amy Russo on Friday, Lugo alleged that Rourke had become “physically with him” at the moment leading up to the incident. Rourke flatly rejected that claim, Russo said.

Earlier Friday, after the Supreme Court voted to overthrow Roe v. Wade, Lugo had tweeted his view that some politicians overreacted to the news, claiming the decision was an “attack on democracy.”

“This Supreme Court ruling does not remove the possibility of having an abortion in the United States,” he wrote. “All it does is give the states the right 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 in the Providence Police Academy.

Lugo ran on a platform with reduced taxes, care reforms and education overhauls. Before apparently deleting his Twitter account, he had also retweeted videos of pro-life marches.

Rourke, for his part, has supported proposals for a Green New Deal in Rhode Island, a minimum wage increased to $ 19 an hour, free childcare and other progressive policies.

She will continue the race against Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, a Democrat who was earlier approved of Rhode Island Right to Life.

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Javed Iqbal

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