Police respond with violence against abortion rights protesters across the country
Los Angeles Police Department officers deploy batons against activists as they protest the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in Los Angeles, on Saturday, June 25, 2022. | Keith Birmingham / The Orange County Register via AP

Abortion rights activists, journalists, and legal observers in recent days have been attacked and detained by police at demonstrations against the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Providence, R.I., police officer and Republican state Senate candidate Jeann Lugo suspended his campaign after the publication of video footage showing him punching one of his Democratic opponents, reproductive rights organizer Jennifer Rourke, in the face at a protest outside the State House last Friday evening. Lugo, who was off duty at the time of the incident, was arrested, charged with assault and disorderly conduct, and arraigned on Saturday.

“This is what it means to be a Black woman running for office,” Rourke tweeted following the attack, adding, “I won’t give up.” Speaking of Lugo in an interview with WPRI, Rourke said that “it’s the anger in his face that really gets to me.

“There was a verbal altercation, and I jumped in to de-escalate,” she explained. “I looked to my left and that’s when Officer Lugo punched me in my face multiple times.”

Numerous incidents of police violence, including attacks on journalists and a legal observer, were documented Friday evening in Los Angeles. Status Coup reporter Tina Desiree Berg, who was displaying her press credentials, was assaulted by Los Angeles Police Department officers, one of whom subsequently claimed he was “trying to protect” her.

Beverly Hills Courier reporter Samuel Braslow, who was shoved to the ground by officers, tweeted video of police using a baton to knock a National Lawyers Guild observer to the street and firing “less lethal” rounds at protesters at point-blank range.

In a statement referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling, National Lawyers Guild President Suzanne Adely said that “both the Dobbs decision and state repression of protest against it violate human rights.

“Targeting legal observers, who serve as trained witnesses of police conduct, is an act of state repression that shows dangerous police entitlement to unchecked power and violence,” she added. “To truly reject the Supreme Court decision, we must support protesters.”

VPS Reports publisher Vishal P. Singh recorded and tweeted multiple police attacks on Los Angeles protesters, including a man who was slammed to the ground and appeared to have a seizure. When Singh tried to give the man water, police smacked the bottle out of his hand.

On Saturday, actress Jodie Sweetin was recorded being violently shoved to the ground by police at a protest on a Los Angeles freeway.

“Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken,” the Full House star said following the incident. “This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

In Phoenix, police fired tear gas at protesters outside the Arizona State Capitol on Friday. State troopers also handcuffed and detained an Arizona Republic photographer and people who identified themselves as National Lawyers Guild legal observers. Four demonstrators were also arrested at a Saturday protest and released later in the day after a Phoenix judge found no probable cause for charges, according to the Republic.

In Greenville, S.C., police were recorded tackling and using a Taser on pro-choice protesters at a downtown demonstration Saturday. Allen Chaney, a spokesperson for the ACLU of South Carolina, told The Guardian that his organization “strongly condemns violence against peaceful protesters.

“It should be the case that you can show up and peacefully protest in this country without fear of violence or wrongful arrest,” he said.

There have also been attacks on pro-choice protesters by civilians. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa—one of numerous states with laws shielding motorists who strike protesters—the driver of a pickup truck intentionally rammed several women at a Friday evening demonstration. One woman, whose foot was run over by the truck, was hospitalized.

Cedar Rapids City Councilmember Ashley Vanorney, who was attending the demonstration, tweeted that “a truck jumped traffic and plowed into peaceful protestors crossing the pedestrian walkway at the federal courthouse. I was walking alongside them—the crowd included children alongside me.”

In Los Angeles, an abortion rights protester was hospitalized after being stabbed following a Saturday night rally.

“Whoever these people are they’re coming for us,” the victim told Singh. “The stabber specifically named-dropped me along with other comrades including but not limited to femmes and trans allies.”

Common Dreams


Brett Wilkins
Brett Wilkins

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based writer and activist whose work focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights. He is a staff writer at Common Dreams and a member of the international socialist writers’ group Collective 20. Brett is also the lead contributor to the blog of Ethics In Tech.