President Donald Trump attacked the 75-year-old Buffalo protester who was shoved by police last week. The incident ignited a furor that led to the prosecution of two officers on charges of felony assault.
Trump on Tuesday tweeted a wild and, to say the least, unsubstantiated and unproven conspiracy theory about the man, Martin Gugino. “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
Ari Fleischer, press secretary under George W. Bush, was among those who quickly reacted to the tweet, writing, “The president’s penchant for trafficking in conspiracy theories is, politically speaking, going to ruin him. This is reckless. He doesn’t know when to stop.”
Gugino is in serious but stable condition, according to his attorney. He had been demonstrating in a protest following the death of George Floyd. A local radio station captured him as he was approaching the officers, but was shoved. He fell to the ground and landed on the pavement, as blood pooled under his head.
The officers, Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, were suspended, but 57 officers resigned from the city’s emergency response unit in a union protest of the sanction. The officers have pleaded not guilty.
Trump indicated he had been watching a segment on the incident on One America News Network, a right-leaning network known for its pro-Trump point of view.
Elizabeth Harrington, national spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, retweeted Trump’s tweet and linked to a story claiming that Gugino was a “key major instigator” of vandalism and looting during last week’s unrest. The tweet was later deleted.
Gugino is longtime peace activist from Amherst, according to the Buffalo News, and has been involved in the Western New York Peace Center.
Gugino’s attorney, Kelly Zarcone, told CNN in a statement, “No one from law enforcement has even suggested anything otherwise so we are at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations against him. Martin has always been a PEACEFUL protestor because he cares about today’s society.”