Scroll down for video of the incident
An ugly scene took place outside the Kentucky Senatorial debate Monday night as what appeared to be a supporter of Republican candidate Rand Paul was captured by a local news affiliate literally stomping the head of a member of the progressive-activist organization MoveOn.org.
The MoveOn volunteer, Lauren Valle, went to the hospital after explaining what had happened to local press. As of 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time she remained there, according to another MoveOn official. According to a local Fox station, Valle had attempted to approach Paul before the debate took place, dressed in a blonde wig and with a "RepublicanCorp" sign mocking him as a stooge of special interests.
Attendees around Valle are heard screaming, "get the cops" as cameras captured her being dragged to the pavement by her red sweater. Once on the ground a man wearing white sneakers pushed the sole of his shoe down on her head.
There is no definitive word on who stomped on Valle or why they went to such lengths to stop her protest. A call to the Lexington police department was not immediately returned. The Kentucky Post, however, reported that: "Police say she refused treatment and later filed an assault report. Her identity is not yet released."
The paper also reported that a second fight broke out before the debate, with a Conway supporter stepping on the foot of a female Paul supporter. The Paul supporter, who recently had foot surgery, refused medical treatment but filed an assault report.
UPDATE: A spokesman for the Lexington Police Department, Lt. Edward Hart, tells The Huffington Post that as off 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time they have not yet identified the man captured on video stomping the head of the MoveOn volunteer. Hart said that the department would be reviewing news footage of the incident and that they "are hoping someone can identify who the person is." Until then, he said, it is a "pending investigation."
Hart additionally offered some details from the police report filed from the incident. There were, he said, roughly 300 protestors outside the debate and only a handful of officers. "We were not anticipating any issues," he acknowledged.
"The victim, apparently, was trying to run up and approach Dr. Paul with a sign reading 'RepubliCorp: Employee of the Month,'" he added. "She worked for MoveOn.org -- was a contract employee sent to the debate with MoveOn.org for the purpose of getting a picture with Dr. Paul with the sign."
Valle had been sent from Pennsylvania for the purposes of appearing outside the Paul event, according to Hart. "She had been attending multiple rallies with the same purpose. She stated that she was wearing a wig and as she was running up to Rand Paul she was either tripped on purpose or pushed to the ground." Following the incident Valle "complained of injury to the temple area."
Hart relayed that a fourth-degree assault report had been filed with the policy department -- as is customary when the result "is a minor injury." Once the suspect is identified it will be up to Valle "to file for warrant or the summons to bring that person into court."
LATER UPDATE: Mark Riddle, a senior adviser for the Conway campaign, tells The Huffington Post that Conway reached out to Valle after the incident took place to make sure she was all right. He did not get through to her at the hospital but was able to talk to a friend or associate who was there.
The Attorney General, Riddle relays, was inside the venue when the incident took place and didn't hear about it until after the fact. Police officials did, however, brief campaign officials in the green room during the course of the debate to alert them to what had transpired outside.
"Everyone is hoping she is okay and I don't think anybody believes this sort of behavior is tolerable," said Riddle. "We can disagree on issues and be passionate about them but I don't think there is any room for someone throwing a young lady to the ground and stomping her on the head no matter how much they disagree with her."
LATER UPDATE:: Paul aide Jesse Benton put out a statement after midnight calling the incident "incredibly unfortunate."
We understand that there was an altercation outside of the debate between supporters of both sides and that is incredibly unfortunate. Violence of any kind has no place in our civil discourse and we urge supporters on all sides to be civil to one another as tensions rise heading toward this very important election. We are relieved to hear that the woman in question was not injured.
LATER UPDATE:: A MoveOn official tells the Huffington Post that Valle suffered a concussion but was released from the hospital very early on Tuesday morning. She is leaning toward pressing charges, the official added.
In addition, Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn released the organization's first statement on the matter:
We're appalled at the violent incident that occurred at the Kentucky Senate debate last night. Numerous news reports clearly show that the young woman--a MoveOn supporter--was assaulted and pushed to the ground by Rand Paul supporters, where one man held her down while another stomped on her head. This kind of violence has no place in American society, much less at a peaceful political rally.
Our first concern is obviously Lauren's health and well being. She is recovering, and we will release more details as we have them. We are concerned that no arrests have yet been made, and we hope those responsible will be brought to justice quickly, and that Rand Paul will join us in condemning this horrible act.
LATER UPDATE:: Asked about the incident during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday morning, Paul acknowledged that there was "a bit of a crowd control problem."
We want everybody to be civil. We want this campaign to be about issues. I will tell you that when we arrived there was enormous passion on both sides. It really was something where you walk into a haze of lights flashing, people yelling and screaming, bumping up. And there was a bit of a crowd control problem. I don't want anybody though to be involved in things that aren't civil. I think this should always be about the issues. And it is an unusual situation to have so many people so passionate on both sides jockeying back and forth. And it wasn't something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation. So I hope in the future it is going to be better.
LATER UPDATE: Now Conway himself has weighed in with a statement sent from his campaign to reporters.
I was shocked to see video footage of a Rand Paul supporter stomping the head of a woman outside the debate last night. We can disagree on issues, and I don't know what preceded the incident, but physical violence by a man against a woman must never be tolerated. It is my hope that steps have been taken to ensure this kind of thuggish behavior never happens again in this campaign.
We will update this post with more information as it arrives.
Note: A photograph used on the front page of The Huffington Post depicting a "Don't Tread On Me" button worn by one of the men in the altercation was taken by Bob Layton at Blue Bluegrass.