Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Police officers in Buffalo, New York walk by the motionless body of 75-year-old Martin Gugino as he bleeds from his ear after being attack attacked by officers during a protest on June 5, 2020. (Photo: Screengrab/WBFO)

'Toxic Culture' of Police Departments Decried After 57 Buffalo Officers Resign in Support of Two in Unit Who Attacked Elderly Man

"So is 57 officers resigning at once just a few bad apples?"

Eoin Higgins

Fifty-seven officers in the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned Friday from their positions on the unit in support of two of their colleagues who were suspended for shoving an elderly man onto the ground during a protest Thursday, putting him in the hospital.

"The cops who are resigning over this are proving they shouldn't have been on the force in the first place," tweeted CounterPunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair. "I hope many more of them resign. And soon."

The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, the department's AFL-CIO-affiliated union, claimed in a statement announcing the mass resignation that the two officers caught on camera shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground with no provocation were only following orders.

It's unclear what orders led to the unprovoked assault, after which Gugino lay motionless on the ground, blood pouring out of his ear. 

"This is an example of officers doing exactly what they're supposed to," union president John Evans told the Investigative Post Friday.

Gugino, who is undergoing chemotherapy, is in serious but stable condition at a local hospital.

According to the Associated Press:

Gugino is a veteran peace activist involved with the Western New York Peace Center and Latin American Solidarity Committee, said Vicki Ross, the center's executive director. His Twitter timeline includes tweets and retweets supportive of progressive causes and critical of police. One tweet from Wednesday read: "The cops should not have clubs. And should not be in riot gear. The National Guard should arrest the police."

The officers will remain on the force, making their resignations in effect a refusal to perform "aspects of the job you don't want to do right now (in solidarity with incredible unprovoked violence) while keeping your full paycheck," said writer Nathan Bernhardt.

Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who introduced a bill to strip police of qualified immunity, which protects them from prosecution, tweeted that the resignations were "disgraceful."

"There's a toxic culture inside many police departments," said Amash.

The ongoing protests and demonstrations over police brutality sparked by last week's killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers are set to continue through the weekend, with massive crowds expected on Saturday and Sunday in cities and towns around the country. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Zero Tolerance for Corruption': Grijalva, Porter Demand Answers on Alleged Trump Pardon Bribery Scheme

The Democrats believe a real estate developer donated to a Trump-aligned super PAC in exchange for the pardons of two other men.

Julia Conley ·


Millions of Americans Lack Adequate Health Coverage, But the Pentagon Has a New Nuclear Bomber to Flaunt

"This ominous death machine, with its price tag of $750 million a pop, brings huge profits to Northrop Grumman but takes our society one more step down the road of spiritual death," peace activist Medea Benjamin said of the new B-21 Raider.

Brett Wilkins ·


Betrayal of Railway Workers Ignites Working-Class Fury Toward Biden and Democrats

"Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic," said one rail leader. "Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class 1 rail carriers every time."

Jessica Corbett ·


With GOP House Control Looming, Pascrell Calls for Swift Release of Trump Tax Records

"Donald Trump tried to hide his tax returns from our oversight but after 1,329 days we have finally obtained the documents," said the New Jersey Democrat. "We should review and release them."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo