President Trump on Tuesday pushed a conspiracy theory that an elderly man who was shoved to the ground by Buffalo police last week, leaving him in serious condition, may have been an Antifa “provocateur” who attempted to scramble police communications.
“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,” Trump wrote in a Tuesday morning tweet.
“@OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” Trump wrote, referring to One America News Network.
As an anti-racism protest ended in Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall just before the city’s curfew started Thursday evening, city law enforcement and state police moved through the area and pushed protesters back.
An elderly man, later identified as 75-year-old Martin Gugino, can be seen in a graphic video approaching the officers, at which point he is shoved and loses his balance, falling backwards onto the pavement and hitting his head. Blood can immediately be seen leaking from his ear as onlookers urge officers to call an ambulance. Several officers continue to walk past the man.
Two EMTs treated the man, who suffered a concussion and lacerations and was taken to the hospital, where he remains in “serious but stable” condition as of Tuesday, according to his lawyer.
The two police officers who shoved Gugino were suspended immediately without pay and have been charged with felony assault. Both officers have pled not guilty and are scheduled to appear in court on July 20.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday called the video “horrendous, disgusting” at a press conference.
Thursday’s demonstration in Buffalo was one of many protests across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody last week after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes, including after Floyd passed out.
The OANN report Trump appears to be referring to stated that the incident could be a “false flag provocation” by Antifa. The report claims Gugino appeared to engage in “common Antifa tactics” by using a police tracker on his phone to scan and “black out” police communications, known as “skimming.” Some conservatives argued that in video footage of the incident, Gugino appears to use his phone to scan the microphone of one officer and then the communications belt of the second officer. Gugino has also reportedly posted anti-police rhetoric on his social media accounts.