Rhode Island is a pretty blue state. The PVI is D+8. The whole congressional delegation is made up of Democrats and all the elected constitutional officers— governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer— are all Democrats. The state Senate has 33 Democrats and 5 Republicans and the state House has 66 Democrats and 9 Republicans. Biden beat Trump 307,486 (59.4%) to 199,922 (38.6%). Bonus: Bernie beat Hillary by 11 points in the state primary.
But that doesn’t mean Republicans— including MAGA-fascists— aren’t part of “the discussion.” And as you saw at the 1/6 insurrection, Republicans consider violence “legitimate political discourse.” Late yesterday WPRI reported that Jennifer Rourke, a Democrat running for the state Senate, was punched in the face at a Roe v Wade protest demonstration by Providence police officer Jeann Lugo (a 35 year old Republican)— who was off-duty and also happens to be her opponent in the Senate race. Or he was. He has now withdrawn from the race. Lugo was quickly put on paid leave and is facing criminal charges.
“As I looked to my left that’s when Officer Lugo punched me in the face multiple times,” Rourke said.
“I had never interacted with him, ever,” she said. “That was my first and hopefully my last interaction with him.”
Video captured by radio and podcast host Bill Bartholomew shows a man who appears to be Lugo punching Rourke in the face.
…“I’m disappointed, I’m extremely angry, I’m sad,” Rourke said. “Not just because of the [court] decision that came out, but because he resorted to such a violent manner.”
In a statement to 12 News, Lugo said he was “in a situation that no individual should see themselves in” Friday night.
“I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking,” he said.
Lugo initially announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor this year, but recently decided to end that campaign and instead seek the seat currently held by Senate Majority Leader Mike McCaffrey, D-Warwick. (Rourke is challenging McCaffrey in the Democratic primary.)
Lugo said he was motivated by outrage over the steps that McCaffrey and other Senate leaders took to enact a new ban on higher-capacity gun magazines earlier this month.
But on Saturday afternoon, a message posted to Lugo’s Twitter account said he would no longer be seeking political office this year. The account was then deactivated.
This morning, Washington Post reporters Timothy Bella and James Bikales wrote that Rourke had been one of the speakers at the demonstration before the deranged Republican assaulted her. “Lugo,” they wrote, “did not deny hitting Rourke to The Journal. He said Rourke had become physical with him, which she has denied. ‘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 outlet. Lugo has faced criticism from local leaders, including Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (D). Elorza noted in a statement that he was limited in what he could say publicly because of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which offers protections for police when they’re faced with disciplinary review. ‘With that said, I’ve seen the video and it’s immensely disturbing,’ Elorza said. ‘Those responsible will be held fully accountable.’ Less than 24 hours after the incident at the abortion protest, Rourke expressed disappointment to the Boston Globe that the violence she’s seen plague other past demonstrations happened in Providence. ‘It’s frustrating when you are trying to have something peaceful and it turns into something like that,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen things happen across the country, and I never thought that would happen here or to me.’”
Republican Party officials in Rhode Island have been refusing to comment.