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.

Fulton County Subpoenas of Trump Allies Offer Hope 'That Justice Will Ultimately Be Served'

"The coordinated attempts by former President Donald Trump and his associates to discount and ignore the will of Georgian voters during the 2020 election cannot be swept under the rug," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·


Russian Official Makes Nuclear Threat Over US Support for Ukraine War Crimes Probe

Another official responded to Western sanctions by suggesting that Russia could reclaim Alaska.

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Denounced for Imposing New Sanctions as Iran Nuclear Talks Falter

One Middle East expert accused the U.S. administration of "continuing and embracing Trump's max pressure policy, while expecting a different result."

Brett Wilkins ·


Under 'Draconian Abortion Ban,' Woman in El Salvador Sentenced to 50 Years for Pregnancy Loss

Laws like El Salvador's are "now being replicated in states across the U.S.," noted one observer.

Julia Conley ·


Warren, Sanders, and Others Blast Biden's 'Failure' on Federal Cannabis Policy

While commending Biden's pardons and commutations, six senators wrote that "much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo