Jennifer Rock Biography
Who is Jennifer Rock?
A Rhode Island police officer was suspended with pay Saturday for allegedly assaulting a woman during an abortion protest, while the Providence Police Department opened a criminal investigation into his conduct.
Democratic state Senate candidate Jennifer Rock, president of the Rhode Island Political Co-op, released a video of the alleged attack Saturday morning.
“I am a reproductive rights organizer and state Senate candidate. Last night, after speaking at our Roy rally, my Republican opponent, a police officer, slammed me. This is a black woman running for office. … I will not give up,” he wrote.
Jean Lugo arrested
The Providence Police Department confirmed Saturday that Jean Lugo, who is also running for the Republican nomination for the same state Senate seat, is the officer involved.
“PPD is conducting a criminal investigation into the conduct of an off-duty police officer at a protest last night in which a woman was assaulted,” the department said Saturday. “The officer, who has served for 3 years, was placed on paid administrative leave this morning, Pending criminal investigation and administrative reconsideration.”
Lugo told the Providence Journal she “would not deny” the assault charges, but added, “It all happened so quickly.”
“As an officer sworn to protect and serve our community, I unfortunately find myself in a situation where I shouldn’t see anyone,” she said in an email to the Boston Globe. “I stepped in to protect A man who was attacked by a mob.”
Lugo did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.
Video of the incident posted online showed two other people getting into physical confrontation at the protest just before a woman, apparently Rourke, was beaten. The video does not show what happened between Lugo and Locke before Locke was hit.
“I’m a black woman running for office,” Locke told The Wall Street Journal. “No need, no need whatsoever. I’m not giving up.”
The incident occurred as she tried to escort a counter-protester who had agreed to leave, Locke said in a call with The Associated Press. She said another physical altercation ensued when she took the man out of the house, when Lugo punched her several times in the face.
Locke said she had never interacted with Lugo before and didn’t know she would be at the protest.
“I’m disappointed that he chose to use violence in this way. As a police officer, you are trained for de-escalation. He didn’t do what he was trained to do,” she said.
Jeann Lugo charged
Locke sought medical attention and had a CT scan on Saturday afternoon. He said he was fine, but there was a lot of softness in his face and buzzing in his ears.
He said he had filed charges against Lugo.
At noon on Saturday, Lugo tweeted that he would withdraw from the game.
“I’m not running for office this fall,” he said.
It appeared that his Twitter account was deactivated shortly after.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza tweeted that he had seen the video, calling it “very disturbing.” Eloza said there were “limits” in what he could say publicly, but added: “Whoever is responsible will take full responsibility.”
The brawl took place during protests outside the Rhode Island State Capitol in Providence on Friday, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which granted the constitutional right to abortion in 1973 ruling.