PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) -- A 34-year-old Massachusetts man is facing assault and disorderly conduct charges for allegedly throwing horse manure on a Rhode Island State Police trooper, as well as an Army veteran, during a rally and counter-protest near the State House.
In a police report obtained by NBC 10 News on Wednesday, Rhode Island State Police noted that Andrew St. Jean was arrested Saturday and later arraigned by a justice of the peace.
“Me and the officers were all rained down with horse crap,” the veteran, Samson Racioppi, 36, of Salisbury, Massachusetts, told NBC 10. “I turned around and personally witnessed an officer spitting it out of his mouth.”
A second man, Alexander Carrion, 34, of Providence, was also arrested at the event.
A spokeswoman for the Providence Police Department said Carrion is facing felony assault and disorderly conduct charges.
Racioppi, who is also a former libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress, said the suspect struck him on the back of the head with a bicycle lock while he was standing with two women inside the Providence Place mall after the “Freedom Rally and March,” which was organized by “Resist Marxism,” a group that claims to “defend the Constitution against violent extremists and the Regressive Left.”
The arrest was caught on camera by Rod Webber and later posted on YouTube. Footage shows police chasing the suspect inside a parking garage at the mall before tackling him and placing him in handcuffs.
As authorities were searching him outside the building, the suspect identified himself as Carrion while he was speaking with people who were recording the incident, spelling his name and sharing his birth date.
Leading up to the arrest, Racioppi said a few men wearing masks approached him while he was trying to get back to his car, which was in the mall’s parking garage.
“I knew right away that it was going to be confrontational, but I didn’t think they would attack me because of how busy and populated it was,” Racioppi said. “Anytime I’m in a situation where I think there is going to be conflict, I use words. So, as they were approaching, I looked around and said, ‘I can’t help but notice there are no police around. What are you going to do?’”
That’s when Racioppi said one of the men “slammed him from behind” with the lock. A photo shows an oval-shaped laceration on the top of his neck.
Racioppi was evaluated at an area hospital and released after someone called 911.
“They don’t think there are going to be any lasting physical wounds, but I have experience with PTSD and this is going to stay with me for a while,” he said.
According to posts on social media and on various web sites, “a counter-demonstration” to oppose the “Freedom Rally and March” was organized by “Ocean State Against Hate.”
“We refuse to be fooled, and we will oppose them,” Ocean State Against Hate noted in a post on upRiseRI.com ahead of the counter-protest. “In response, a coalition of anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ, anti-fascist, socialist, labor, and community organizers has formed, calling ourselves ‘Ocean State Against Hate.’ Our purpose is simple and clear: to shut down their event and make it clear that this community defend themselves from hate.”
Another group, “Jam City Antifa,” posted a flyer the night before the event on Facebook.
“Defend our community against racism, anti-immigration sentiment, and the alt-right,” the flyer read, while other posts on the page claim the group stole a “Resist Marxism” banner at the event.
Racioppi told NBC 10 he is not a member of “Resist Marxism,” noting that he went to the rally to show his support, describing himself as a free speech activist who often attends similar events. He said he is not a racist, white supremacist, Nazi or member of the KKK.
“I have a history of denouncing racism, bigotry and extreme hatred,” he said, adding that “Resist Marxism” mainly consists of conservatives or libertarians. “The accusations are thrown out everywhere. We’re not racists. We’re not members of any extremist groups.”
But why does Racioppi think he was targeted?
“I was one of the louder ones and one of the more influential ones at the rally,” Racioppi said. “He was motivated by what he thinks I believe.”
Several attempts to reach Carrion were unsuccessful.