By | Rachel Brooks
Staff | Telegraph Local
Above, Niagara Square, Buffalo, New York where this incident occurred. This photo is from a Women’s March in 2017. CC By 2.0 James G. Milles.
President Trump has come under the fire of political and social scrutiny once more when he expressed his doubts regarding the motives of the elderly man pushed to the pavement by police during a Buffalo, New York protest. This was reported by Fox News within the last 24 hours. The elderly man was hospitalized after local news video shows his head violently cracked on the pavement of a Buffalo sidewalk. From footage, we can see that the man’s head began to well up a puddle of blood around the place of impact.
Fox News reports that the police officers who shoved the gentlemen will plead “not guilty” of the incident. The man, identified as Martin Gugino, was pushed to the ground after appearing to attempt to use a scanning device on police equipment. Fox reports that police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were both charged with a second-degree assault, which is a class D felony, for the incident. The officers were suspended without pay as an internal affairs investigation ensued. Mr. Gugino appears to continue to lay on the ground for some time as police proceed to walk around his limp form, from further footage and photos captured by Reuters.
Mr. Trump had his speculations regarding the incident.
“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?” said Mr. Trump in a tweet that was posted at 7:34 am on June 9.
Agreeing with Mr. Trump, some who commented on the reports of this incident questioned whether the injury was staged or not. However, others who responded to Mr. Trump’s twitter thread found the evidence on footage to be hard to deny, as the sound of the man’s head impacting the pavement is audible on the recording.
Fox News spoke with associates of Mr. Gugino. They spoke with Mr. Gugino’s lawyer in particular, Kelly Zarcone. Zarcone stated that Gugino worked with the Western New York Peace Center as the trustee of the group’s Latin American Solidarity Committee. The Western New York Peace Center released a statement regarding Mr. Gugino on June 6.
The statement from the WNYPC incorrectly states that Mr. Gugino approached the officers to “offer them a helmet” because Mr. Gugino did not have a helmet on his person in any of the footage retrieved from the incident. Mr. Gugino’s motive in approaching police officers is not clearly known.
The statement from WNYPC states that Mr. Gugino is involved in many other agencies of activism including Witness Against Torture, Catholic Workers, and PUSH Buffalo.
“Martin is out of ICU but still hospitalized and truly needs to rest. Martin has always been a PEACEFUL protestor because he cares about today’s society. He is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family. 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,” said Zarcone as she was quoted by Fox News.
Zarcone also stated that the device in Mr. Gugino’s hand was not a scanner but was his cellphone. This is corroborated by the photos in which is appears Mr. Gugino is holding a green smartphone.
Trump drew criticism from personalities on both the right and left for his comments. Criticism came from his own conservative party when the right-wing paper The Daily Caller’s own Chuck Ross stated that there was no evidence to support Mr. Trump’s statement.
“My God this is a bad tweet. There’s no evidence to support this and the guy looked like he fell as hard as he was pushed,” said Mr. Ross, in a tweet that was posted at 7:40 am one June 9.
However, many who responded to Mr. Ross’ tweet swore by the President’s statement, saying that the phone was being used as a police communications scanner and that Mr. Gugino is a known agitator at protests. While it is known that Mr. Gugino is involved heavily in left-wing activism, the WNYPC did not list Antifa among the causes he affiliates with or supports in their post regarding the incident and his activism.
Despite what has been said about Mr. Gugino’s alleged fake of the incident and regarding the nature of his activism, many conservative leaning figures still denounced the comments. Curtis Houck, the editor of Newsbusters, a site that scans against liberal bias in the media, summarized the reaction and stated that the post was out of line.
“As many people have correctly noted, this is deranged, unhinged, and wrong. An all-timer for sure in a bad way,” said Mr. Houck in a tweet that was posted on June 9 and which shared the President’s original post.