Jun 09, 2020
President Donald Trump came under fire Tuesday morning after tweeting out a conspiracy theory charging that 75-year-old Martin Gugino, whose assault by Buffalo police last week resulted in his continued hospitalization, was a member of an ill-defined left-wing group and suggested he faked his injuries.
"Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur," the president tweeted, adding that Gugino--who immediately began bleeding from his ear after being violently shoved by officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe--"fell harder than was pushed."
"Wow, Donald Trump in effect stomps on a 75-year-old peace activist who was pushed by police, fell over backward to the ground, and started bleeding from the head," tweeted journalist Steve Greenhouse in reply. "Wow, what an amazingly un-compassionate president we have."
Gugino remains in the hospital in serious but stable condition.
"No one should be assaulted by the police in this way," Intercept journalist Jeremy Scahill said on Twitter. "But for the record, this 75-year-old is a pacifist Catholic Worker who dedicated his life to nonviolence, serving the poor, living the Sermon on the Mount, and fighting for justice in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin."
As Common Dreamsreported last week, the assault on the longtime, well known Buffalo activist was caught on camera and resulted in the suspension and charging of Torgalski and McCabe. The remaining 57 members of the Emergency Response Team then resigned from their positions on the unit in solidarity with the two officers.
"Trump blames victim of police brutality for police brutality," said journalist Windsor Mann.
The president's endorsement of a conspiracy theory around Gugino's injuries appears to use arguments from a segment on far-right news channel One America News Network, itself citing a blog called Conservative Treehouse.
\u201cHere's the first half of the batshit OANN segment Trump just tweeted. It alleges the 75 year old man assaulted by Buffalo police officers was an antifa operative, based on a report from Conservative Treehouse.\u201d— Matthew Gertz (@Matthew Gertz) 1591706603
\u201cHere's the rest of it, which says that media are "fan[ning] the flames of national unrest" by promoting this "far-left provocation" to hurt Trump and help China.\u201d— Matthew Gertz (@Matthew Gertz) 1591706603
Critics of the president took issue instantly with the baseless allegations against Gugino and Trump's excuse for the violence.
"Takes a lot for a Trump tweet to be genuinely shocking at this point," tweeted The Hill's Niall Stanage. "And yet, here we are."
\u201cThere was blood leaking from his head.\nIt is visible on the video.\nHe is still in the hospital.\u201d— Heidi Przybyla (@Heidi Przybyla) 1591707415
\u201cCongrats to all the Republican senators who today will be asked if they believe that a 75 year old Catholic volunteer is an "ANTIFA provocateur" who "set up" the incident that put him in the hospital.\u201d— Tierney Sneed (@Tierney Sneed) 1591707314
"Not much going on here," said Intercept senior editor Peter Maas, "just a racist far-right conspiracy-theorist who's president of the U.S. and about 40 percent of the electorate are going to vote for him in November."
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