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A Buffalo police officer appears to shove a man
A Buffalo police officer appears to shove a man
Image: Mike Desmond/WBFO/AP via PA Images

'Cruel and reckless': NY governor slams Trump over claims about protester (75) who was hospitalised by police

The president attempted to cast doubt on footage showing police in the city of Buffalo shoving the man.
Jun 10th 2020, 8:51 AM 28,230 79

NEW YORK GOVERNOR Andrew Cuomo has heavily criticised US President Donald Trump after he claimed an incident in which a 75-year-old protestor was pushed to the ground by police may have been a “set up”. 

Trump has sided firmly with police over protesters who have taken to the streets across the country.

With his tweet, he attempted to cast doubt on video showing police in Buffalo shoving the man, who fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement. He is seen bleeding from his head as officers walk away.

Two Buffalo police officers have been charged with second-degree assault for the incident and could face prison sentences of up to seven years if convicted. They have pleaded not guilty.

The video is one of several that have emerged in recent weeks showing police using seemingly excessive force against protesters demanding justice and racial equality following the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Trump wrote.

“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?”

There is no evidence to back Trump’s claim, referencing a report on One America News Network, a far-right news channel.

Gugino, who is out of intensive care but remains in hospital, has been described by friends as a retiree and veteran peace activist driven by his faith and a desire for social justice.

He is involved with the Western New York Peace Centre and Latin American Solidarity Committee, said Vicki Ross, the centre’s executive director.

She said he has also been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo has called on Trump to apologise for a “wholly unacceptable” tweet.

How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude. I mean if there was ever a reprehensible, dumb comment, and from the president of the United States.

“At this moment of anguish and anger, what does he do? Pour gasoline on the fire. Show some decency. Show some humanity. Show some fairness. You’re the president of the United States.”

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Gugino’s lawyer, Kelly Zarcone, told the Associated Press that Trump’s accusations “are utterly baseless and ridiculous”.

She said her client “has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today’s society”.

“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 about him. We can confirm that those accusations are utterly baseless and ridiculous,” she said.

New York lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, called Trump’s tweet “sick”.

“The President continues to use his platform to peddle conspiracy theories, this time about a peaceful protestor and fellow New Yorker. Not sure how this is supposed to bring our country together,” she tweeted.

Buffalo mayor Byron Brown, another Democrat, tweeted to Trump that “the City of Buffalo is laser focused on healing, taking action against racial injustice and building a good future for our residents. We pray for a full recovery for Mr Gugino and as I have repeatedly said, the two officers deserve due process”.

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