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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.”
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 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.”
Unfortunately, I am limited in what I can say publicly due to LEOBOR. With that said, I’ve seen the video and it’s immensely disturbing. Those responsible will be held fully accountable. https://t.co/IcnjBaNnGH
— Jorge Elorza (@Jorge_Elorza) June 25, 2022