Off-duty Rhode Island cop is ARRESTED and drops out of Senate race after 'punching' female Democrat rival during Roe v. Wade clash

  • Jeann Lugo, 35, was arrested Saturday after being put on paid leave and suspending his state senate campaign after a video leaked of him apparently attacking his Democratic rival at a Roe v Wade rally
  • Jennifer Rourke said that she had never interacted with the suspect before and claims Lugo 'violently attacked' her
  • Lugo hasn't denied the allegations, but instead said 'it was very chaotic' and he can't confirm what happened
  •  During his campaign, Lugo was quoted stated his opposition to what he called 'taxpayer funded abortions'
  • The alleged attack came amid a day of chaos-filled protests across the U.S. 
  • Pro-choice activists were tear gassed in clashes in Arizona and dozens are arrested in NYC and LA
  • Protests erupted after SCOTUS overturned the Roe decision, which guaranteed abortion rights nationwide

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A Rhode Island cop was suspended his state senate campaign and was later arrested after a video emerged apparently showing him punching his Democratic female rival, during a Roe v. Wade protest. 

Hundreds of protesters assembled outside the Rhode Island Statehouse in Providence Friday in wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. 

Video shared on Twitter shows the shocking moment Republican cop Jeann Lugo, 35, allegedly struck Rhode Island Political Cooperative Chairwoman Jennifer Rourke in the face twice on Friday night.

The pair had been due to face off in the state Senate District 29 race.  

Rourke, a Democrat, claims Lugo 'violently attacked' her after she spoke out at a Roe v. Wade rally in Providence. Lugo was off-duty at the time of the alleged incident.

'This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up,' she wrote. 

Less than 24 hours after the incident, Lugo announced that he was suspending his campaign.   

The department said the officer was placed on paid administrated leave Saturday morning pending a criminal investigation and administrative review. 

Police did not disclose the name of the arrested officer but said the individual has served with the department for three years. Lugo joined the force in 2019, according to the department's 69th training academy commencement booklet.

Black Lives Matter RI Political Action Committee publicly called for Lugo to resign.  

Jeann Lugo joined the force in 2019, according to the department's 69th training academy commencement booklet

Jeann Lugo joined the force in 2019, according to the department's 69th training academy commencement booklet

Jennifer Rourke said following the incident: 'This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up'

Jennifer Rourke said following the incident: 'This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up'

Rourke sought medical care and received a CT scan on Saturday afternoon. She said she was doing OK but was experiencing a lot of tenderness in her face and ringing in her ears

Rourke sought medical care and received a CT scan on Saturday afternoon. She said she was doing OK but was experiencing a lot of tenderness in her face and ringing in her ears

Prior to deleting his Twitter page he tweeted:' I will not be running for any office this fall.' 

Lugo had told the Washington Post: 'I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking. At this moment, there's a pending internal investigation, and as the facts of the incident come to light, I request that my family and I have privacy.' 

He said: 'As an officer that swore to protect and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in.'

Lugo was arrested by the Rhode Island State Police and charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct.'

He had been seeking to unseat Democrat Mike McCaffrey, the Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader. In one of his final campaign statement, Lugo said last Monday: 'Instead of promoting sound solutions to make our state more competitive by reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations, Democrats find creative ways to capitulate to special interests that ultimately end up hurting Rhode Islanders.'

In separate comments, Lugo told the Providence Journal that he was 'not going to deny' what is seen in the video but that 'everything happened very fast.'

In a call with The Associated Press, Rourke said the incident occurred as she was attempting to escort a counter protester who had agreed to leave. As she was leading the man off the premises, she said, another physical altercation broke out, at which point she was punched in the face multiple times by Lugo.

Rourke said she has never interacted with Lugo before and did not know he would be at the protest.

'I'm disappointed he chose to use violence in this way. As a police officer, he's trained to deescalate. He did not do what he was trained to do,' she said.

The Democrat confirmed that she had pressed charges against Lugo. 

In the police report on the incident, Rourke was left with pain in her left ear and a headache. Rourke said that she never met Lugo before or had any interaction with him. The suspect fled the scene after the attack. Rourke did not require medical attention and took Tylenol for the pain. 

Rourke received a CT scan on Saturday afternoon. She said she was doing OK but was experiencing a lot of tenderness in her face and ringing in her ears. 

Two others were arrested at the same rally for unrelated incidents.  

Rhode Island Mayor Jorge Elorza tweeted: 'I've seen the video and it's immensely disturbing. Those responsible will be held fully accountable.' 

According to his Facebook page, studied at the Community College of Rhode Island. He is married with a daughter. Prior to becoming a police officer, Lugo worked for a security company in Boston. 

Lugo told WPRI in an April 2022 interview that he was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Rhode Island at the age of five. He was raised by social services from the age of 13. 

The bio on his now-deleted website reads: 'In the summer of 2000, a domestic incident resulted in the separation of his family by the Providence Police Department/ Social Services. At age 13, Jeann was placed into the custody of DCYF. Jeann remained in foster care until he reached adulthood.' 

Lugo said in an interview with Cranston Online that one of the reasons that he was inspired to run for office was in response to being on duty during a Black Lives Matter protest in the summer of 2020.  In that same interview, Lugo said: 'Everything that I've lived through I'm basically running on.'

In May 2022, Lugo was quoted by the Providence Journal as being opposed to what he called 'taxpayer funded abortions.' 

Lugo expressed his opposition to Critical Race Theory in a March 2022 interview saying: 'My take on the Critical Race Theory is that it paints a picture of Caucasians, whites as a negative thing. I don’t like the idea of any race or anybody to be seen as bad or good. I believe that we fought this – specifically Martin Luther King. He made it very clear: everyone [should] be treated equally. He wants to be judged by the character, not by the color of the skin. And I wholeheartedly believe [in] that.'

Rhode Island Political Cooperative Chairwoman Jennifer Rourke has accused her opponent in the state Senate District 29 race, Providence cop Jeann Lugo, of punching her twice during a protest outside the statehouse Friday night

Rhode Island Political Cooperative Chairwoman Jennifer Rourke has accused her opponent in the state Senate District 29 race, Providence cop Jeann Lugo, of punching her twice during a protest outside the statehouse Friday night

Lugo has not denied the allegations and instead said: 'It was very chaotic, so I can't really tell you right now. Everything happened very fast.' Rourke intends to press charges against the off-duty cop

Lugo has not denied the allegations and instead said: 'It was very chaotic, so I can't really tell you right now. Everything happened very fast.' Rourke intends to press charges against the off-duty cop

The alleged assault against Rourke came amid a night of chaos-filled protests across the nation. Thousands of spirited demonstrators took to the streets Friday in cities nationwide to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Demonstrators are pictured outside the Supreme Court building in Washington DC on Friday

The alleged assault against Rourke came amid a night of chaos-filled protests across the nation. Thousands of spirited demonstrators took to the streets Friday in cities nationwide to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Demonstrators are pictured outside the Supreme Court building in Washington DC on Friday

The alleged assault against Rourke came amid a night of chaos-filled protests across the nation. Thousands of spirited demonstrators took to the streets Friday in cities nationwide to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The landmark 1973 decision was overturned Friday after SCOTUS, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

The vote was 5-4 to overturn Roe, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts writing separately to say he would have upheld the Mississippi law without taking the additional step of erasing the Roe precedent altogether.

The ruling restored the ability of states to ban abortion. Twenty-six states are either certain or considered likely to ban abortion. 

Abortion became illegal in 13 U.S. states as soon as Roe was overturned, thanks to specially-devised 'trigger laws' designed to automatically outlaw terminations in the event of a ruling to overturn Roe.

Five other states banned terminations after historic laws superseded by the 1973 Roe ruling automatically came back into place on Friday.

The ruling, which many Democrats claim leaves American women with 'fewer rights than their grandmothers,' prompted outcry across the nation.

Abortion was automatically outlawed in 18 US states as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned, thanks to specially-devised 'trigger laws' and historic bans that were automatically reenacted after Friday's ruling

Abortion was automatically outlawed in 18 US states as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned, thanks to specially-devised 'trigger laws' and historic bans that were automatically reenacted after Friday's ruling

Republican appointed-Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett (circled) all voted to strike down Roe along with Samuel Alito

Republican appointed-Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett (circled) all voted to strike down Roe along with Samuel Alito

Pro-choice activists were tear gassed in clashes at Arizona Capitol building and dozens were arrested in New York City and Los Angeles.  

The Arizona Capitol building was besieged by pro-abortion protesters Friday night, forcing riot cops to fire tear gas to disperse the angry crowd in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned. 

Lawmakers working to complete their 2022 session said they were effectively held-hostage inside, and eventually huddled to a safe location, as SWAT team operatives worked to disperse the gathered crowds.  

KPHO-TV reported the officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building.

Arizona is one of eight states where abortion clinics stopped performing procedures after the decision was released Friday.

Arizona's Republican Governor Doug Ducey insists a bill he previously passed, banning abortions after 15 weeks, still stands. But Ducey's assertion can only be settled in the state's courts - and some hardline Republicans are already suggesting the original ban on all terminations should remain in place.

The incident sent Senate lawmakers into the basement of the building for about 20 minutes, said Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada. Stinging tear gas wafted through the Capitol afterward, forcing the Senate to move its proceedings to a hearing room instead of the Senate chamber.

Authorities said there were no injuries or arrests. 

Tear gas coming from officers firing out of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix is visible as pro choice protesters march outside

Tear gas coming from officers firing out of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix is visible as pro choice protesters march outside

Arizona is one of eight states where abortion clinics stopped performing procedures after the decision was released Friday

Arizona is one of eight states where abortion clinics stopped performing procedures after the decision was released Friday

Arizona's Capitol building was besieged by pro-abortion protesters Friday night, forcing riot cops to fire tear gas to disperse the angry crowd in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned

Arizona's Capitol building was besieged by pro-abortion protesters Friday night, forcing riot cops to fire tear gas to disperse the angry crowd in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned

Lawmakers working to complete their 2022 session said they were effectively held-hostage inside, and eventually huddled to a safe location, as SWAT team operatives worked to disperse the gathered crowds

Lawmakers working to complete their 2022 session said they were effectively held-hostage inside, and eventually huddled to a safe location, as SWAT team operatives worked to disperse the gathered crowds

Officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building

Officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building

Arizona protesters start to move away as the state police begins tear gassing people

Arizona protesters start to move away as the state police begins tear gassing people

Riot police surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona Sentate building

Riot police surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona Sentate building

With tear gas in the air, a large number of police surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the AZ Senate building after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision Friday

With tear gas in the air, a large number of police surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the AZ Senate building after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision Friday

KPHO-TV reported the officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building

KPHO-TV reported the officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building

Abortion rights protesters banged on the walls of the capitol building in Arizona while holding signs

Abortion rights protesters banged on the walls of the capitol building in Arizona while holding signs

In New York, at least 25 people were arrested on Friday after around 17,000 descended on Washington Square Park before marching through the streets to Grand Central Station, Times Square, and Bryant Park.

They also stopped outside News Corp headquarters - home to Fox News and the The New York Post - and yelled 'Burn it down! Burn it down! F*** Tucker Carlson!' Vandals also sprayed 'F*** Fox' on the side of the building. 

Similar arrests were made in Los Angeles, where police reported protesters throwing bottles of water and rocks at officers during demonstrations. 

ABC7 reported that there were protesters throwing what appeared to be fireworks at police. They also spotted a man briefly being dragged away from the demonstrations. 

At one point, authorities declared an unlawful assembly just after 9 p.m., meaning protesters were forced to leave or be put under arrest, with officers not allowing reporters to witness what happened, according to the LA Times

Earlier in the afternoon, a crowd had marched onto the northbound 110 Freeway and temporarily shut down traffic. 

Thousands marched through Manhattan in New York City on Friday, even ending up at News Corp headquarters, home of the New York Post and Fox News

Thousands marched through Manhattan in New York City on Friday, even ending up at News Corp headquarters, home of the New York Post and Fox News

In New York, at least 25 people have been arrested after demonstrations across the city Friday

In New York, at least 25 people have been arrested after demonstrations across the city Friday

Abortion rights activists march from Washington Square Park to Bryant Park in Lower Manhattan in protest

Abortion rights activists march from Washington Square Park to Bryant Park in Lower Manhattan in protest

Similar arrests were made in Los Angeles, where police reported protesters throwing bottles of water and rocks at officers during demonstrations on Friday

Similar arrests were made in Los Angeles, where police reported protesters throwing bottles of water and rocks at officers during demonstrations on Friday 

One activist sets off a smoke flare amid abortion rights protest on the 110 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles

One activist sets off a smoke flare amid abortion rights protest on the 110 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles

Protests in Los Angeles made it all the way out to the city's freeway, momentarily shutting down traffic

Protests in Los Angeles made it all the way out to the city's freeway, momentarily shutting down traffic

Hundreds of angry protesters assembled outside the Supreme Court building in D.C. Friday just moments after SCOTUS ruled to overturn Roe.

Cops, many outfitted in riot gear, were called in to protect the barricaded federal building as protesters chanted: 'F*** Clarence Thomas!' Thomas was among the justices who voted to strike down the ruling. 

Several members of Congress, including Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joined the rally to address the crowd in wake of what AOC called an 'illegitimate decision.'

'In almost half of this country, states are ready to ban abortion,' said Ilhan Omar, a Democrat representing Minnesota. 'Outright ban abortion. That means if you are sick, if you are raped, there is incest, you are forced to have that baby or die.' 

A group was also spotted burning the American flag in the capital while others gathered outside Supreme Court Justice Thomas' home. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared outside the Supreme Court on Friday among the crowds in the aftermath of the Supreme Court releasing the Dobbs decision that ends abortion protections

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared outside the Supreme Court on Friday among the crowds in the aftermath of the Supreme Court releasing the Dobbs decision that ends abortion protections

A protester lights a cigarette on a burning American Flag while marching with abortion-rights activists in DC on Friday

A protester lights a cigarette on a burning American Flag while marching with abortion-rights activists in DC on Friday

Capitol Police dressed in riot gear stand outside the Capitol on Friday evening as protests erupted

Capitol Police dressed in riot gear stand outside the Capitol on Friday evening as protests erupted 

Capitol Police are seen on duty on Friday evening in Washington DC, as protests spread

Capitol Police are seen on duty on Friday evening in Washington DC, as protests spread

Abortion rights activists show their anger outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC on Friday

Abortion rights activists show their anger outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC on Friday

Roe v. Wade: The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America

Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 - ten years after the Supreme Court decision

Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 - ten years after the Supreme Court decision 

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide but divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.

The case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old living in Texas who was unmarried and seeking a termination of her unwanted pregnancy.

Because of state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother's life is at risk, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.

So McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas county district attorney, in 1970. The case went on to the Supreme Court, under the filing Roe vs Wade, to protect McCorvey's privacy.

Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court handed down the watershed 7-2 decision that a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, including the choice to have an abortion, is protected under the 14th Amendment.

In particular, that the Due Process Clause of the the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental 'right to privacy' that protects a woman's liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

The landmark ruling saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions which individual states could decide on. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (typically beyond 28 weeks).

Impact

Among pro-choice campaigners, the decision was hailed as a victory which would mean fewer women would become seriously - or even fatally - ill from abortions carried out by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, the freedom of choice was considered a significant step in the equality fight for women in the country. Victims of rape or incest would be able to have the pregnancy terminated and not feel coerced into motherhood.

McCorvey became a born again Christian in 1995 and started advocating against abortion. Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017

McCorvey became a born again Christian in 1995 and started advocating against abortion. Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017 

However, pro-lifers contended it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, is precious. Though the decision has never been overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of states laws since then narrowing the scope of the ruling.

One such was the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned a procedure used to perform second-trimester abortions.

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)

Following the ruling, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe. 

McCorvey became a leading, outspoken pro-abortion voice in American discourse, even working at a women's clinic where abortions were performed.

However, she performed an unlikely U-turn in 1995, becoming a born again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.

In 2003, a she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 ruling with the U.S. district court in Dallas. 

The motion moved through the courts until it was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court in 2005.

McCorvey died at an assisted living home in Texas in February 2017, aged 69.

Shelley Lynn Thornton (Baby Roe) 

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)  gave birth to Shelley Lynn Thornton in Dallas in 1970 - a year before the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade case was filed. Shelley was the single mother's third pregnancy. She gave her up for adoption the day after giving birth, then continued fighting for the right to abortion afterwards. 

Shelley's identity became public last year. She waived her right to anonymity, speaking out in multiple interviews about the landmark case. 

She says that Norma used her for 'publicity', only trying to make contact with her when she was a teenager and for the wrong reasons. 

'It became apparent to me really quickly that the only reason why she wanted to reach out to me and find me was because she wanted to use me for publicity. She didn't deserve to meet me. She never did anything in her life to get that privilege back.

Baby Roe: Shelley Lynn Thornton, a 51-year-old mother of three, has spoken out for the first time on camera. Her biological mother Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe, whose landmark lawsuit Roe vs Wade won women across America the right to have abortions

Baby Roe: Shelley Lynn Thornton, a 51-year-old mother of three, has spoken out for the first time on camera. Her biological mother Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe, whose landmark lawsuit Roe vs Wade won women across America the right to have abortions

'She never expressed genuine feeling for me or genuine remorse for doing the things that she did, saying the things that she did over and over and over again,' Shelley said last year.

Shelley has refused to say whether or not she agrees with abortion, for fear of weaponized by either side of the debate. 

'A lot of people didn't know I existed. It doesn't revolve around me, I wasn't the one who created this law. I'm not the one who created this movement. I had nothing to do with it. I was just a little itty-bitty thing and, you know, circumstances prevailed.

'My whole thinking is that, 'oh God everybody is going to hate me because everyone is going to blame me for abortion being legal.'

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Aspiring GOP state senator from Rhode Island suspends his campaign and faces losing his job

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