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A Providence police officer has been charged for punching a Black female Senate candidate at an abortion protest outside of Rhode Island’s State House on Friday.

Jennifer Rourke, who is the Political Cooperative Chairwoman and currently a State Senate candidate, was punched in the face “at least twice” by an off-duty police officer who happens to be her challenger in the Senate District race.

“To me, this feels like an act of political violence similar to the acts of violence that we have seen across the U.S.,” Rourke said. “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.”

The man seen throwing punches in the video is 35-year-old Jeann Lugo, a Patrolman for the Providence Police Department and a candidate for State Senate District 29.

The police department announced on Saturday that Lugo was arrested, charged, and arraigned Saturday afternoon after the officer turned himself in. 

“The Providence Police Department is criminally investigating the behavior of an off duty Providence Police Officer last evening during a protest at the Rhode Island State House where a female subject was assaulted,” police spokeswoman Lindsay Lague said, adding that Lugo “was placed on administrative leave with pay [Saturday] morning, pending a criminal investigation and administrative review.”

Providence police officer ends campaign after punching Black female Senate candidate

Lugo did not deny punching Rourke telling The Providence Journal “I’m not going to deny, it was very chaotic, so I can’t really tell you right now. Everything happened very fast.”

Lugo announced on Saturday on Twitter before deleting his account that he had suspended his Senate campaign.

Mayor Jorge Elorza said he was not able to comment on the specifics of the case due to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, but tweeted out that the video is “immensely disturbing.”

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...