A Providence police officer dropped out of the Rhode Island Senate race after assaulting his political opponent at an abortion rally on Friday.
Jeann Lugo was off-duty while attending the protest. Video shows him hitting Jennifer Rourke, his opponent in the Senate race and a speaker at the event, in the face. Rourke was hit in the face at least twice by Lugo.
“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 told The Providence 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.”
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
Lugo was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct on Saturday. He was released on his own recognizance. On Saturday, the Providence Police Department announced they had opened an investigation into the incident. Lugo was placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation’s outcome.
Lugo announced on Twitter that he would no longer be running for office. “I will not be running for any office this fall,” Lugo wrote. Shortly after sending the tweet, he deactivated his account.
Friday’s protest took place following the Supreme Court Decision to overturn 1973’s Roe vs. Wade, which established the constitutional right to an abortion. The ruling negates nearly 50 years of legal precedent and leaves it up to the states to determine legislation concerning abortion.
Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Missouri have already banned abortion.
In response to the Decision, protests have erupted across the nation.