Two weeks from the special general election, a clash between campaign supporters on Saturday, what Mayor Joe Ganim described “individuals associated with the Gomes campaign orchestrated an aggressive ambush targeting a young woman” led to the arrest of Jazmin Cooper, daughter of City Councilwoman Eneida Martinez, who claimed John Gomes mayoral supporters were “stealing ballots” at an East End senior citizen building.
The confrontation captured by Gomes supporters, see video above, led to misdemeanor assault and breach of peace charges against Cooper, according to police. Cooper is seen in the video among a swath of Gomes supporters vehemently protesting their presence at the housing unit parking lot. The day prior Martinez snapped images of Gomes backer Kim McLaughlin outside the complex. Martinez asserted McLaughlin and others were “collecting ballots,” something McLaughlin denies.
Martinez is filing a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. McLaughlin says she will be filing a SEEC complaint of her own.
The Gomes campaign says Cooper “ripped McLaughlin’s clipboard out of her hand, tore up her papers (including numbered AB applications).”
Cooper is heard on the video shouting “she’s coming into our building taking ballots…She’s stealing ballots.”
McLaughlin is quoted in a Gomes news release:
“I am a 69-year-old first generation Irish American. I will not be bullied, intimidated, pushed aside, silenced, or discouraged from participating in the exercise of my constitutional rights of free speech and voting and participating in the election process. I am now more determined than ever to talk to voters about how we can positively change our city for our children and grandchildren. In the coming week, I will be pursuing SEEC and additional police charges pertaining to this incident.”
The Ganim campaign also issued a news release describing the incident as an “ambush to harass Jazmin Cooper” who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
Statement from Ganim:
“It is deeply concerning that individuals associated with the Gomes campaign orchestrated an aggressive ambush targeting a young woman who was by herself in a parking lot, leaving her feeling vulnerable and harassed. The actions of Gomes’ operatives, pursuing her, and chasing her with cameras, prevented her from finding her own phone or seeking assistance. We are grateful to the bystander who intervened by calling 911 to come to her aid. In the photos, the young woman is seen being pursued by older males, she eventually swats away a camera. Such hostile behavior is unacceptable from mayoral candidate Gomes and his team.”
The battle between Ganim and Gomes is deeply personal between respective campaign camps with years of history. The money-challenged Gomes is relying heavily on volunteers to whip up a vote on Feb. 27.
This thing could become extremely messy the final two weeks.