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Who is Martin Gugino? The 75-year-old Buffalo man seriously injured by police 'had a good chuckle' over Trump's tweet

Who is Martin Gugino? The 75-year-old Buffalo man seriously injured by police 'had a good chuckle' over Trump's tweet

Who is Martin Gugino? The 75-year-old Buffalo man seriously injured by police 'had a good chuckle' over Trump's tweet

Buffalo police charged with shoving, injuring 75-year-old man

An elderly man shoved to the ground by Buffalo police denies being part of Antifa after President Donald Trump suggested he was a “provocateur” who faked his fall.

Martin Gugino, 75, remains hospitalized with a bruise and cuts after two police officers shoved him Thursday during a protest against police brutality after the death of George Floyd. Video from NPR’s Buffalo radio station, WBFO, showing Gugino on the ground and bleeding from the ear quickly went viral and outrage ensued as the Buffalo Police Department claimed in a statement he “tripped & fell.”

Trump claimed without evidence that Gugino “could be an ANTIFA provocateur” on Twitter Tuesday and pushed a conspiracy theory that "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?”

Kelly Zarcone, a lawyer for Gugino, told TMZ on Tuesday that he denies being involved with the anti-fascist movement.

“Martin is out of ICU but still hospitalized and truly needs to rest. Martin has always been a peaceful protestor because he cares about today’s society," Zarcone said in a statement. “No one from law enforcement has suggested otherwise."

Gugino "is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family. 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 against him.”

"It doesn't surprise me at all that he wanted to strike up a conversation with someone who, to me, would look like a fearsome person," Kelly said. "To Martin, he would look like someone who might be interested in an exchange."

Kelly last saw Gugino in November, when Gugino was a guest speaker at an annual dinner for the Western New York Peace Center. She said friends had been worried about his health even before he was pushed to the ground by police. "At age 75 and not in the best of health, I think he took a hard blow," Kelly said.

The BBC fact-checked Trump’s claims Gugino was trying to scan or block police communications, noting that some apps allow phone users to listen to police scanners -- but wouldn’t be able to jam police radio signals.

“In any event, even if you were attempting to scan police radios in order to jam them using a mobile phone, which is what the man appeared to be holding, this is not the equipment you would use. You would need much more sophisticated scanning equipment,” Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at Surrey University told the British publication. “In terms of interfering with police communications frequencies, mobile phones simply don’t have components that work at those frequencies."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized Trump on Tuesday for the baseless tweet.

“Do you think the blood coming out of his head was staged? Is that what you’re saying?” the New York governor said. “How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude. 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? Pours gasoline on the fire."

Officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault Saturday and released without bail after pleading not guilty. Both officers were suspended without pay late Thursday night.

Gugino, identified as a longtime peace activist from Amherst, is a member of two nonprofits: PUSH Buffalo, which focuses on affordable housing, and the Western New York Peace Center, a human rights organization. He is also part of the Catholic Worker Movement and politically active on social media, frequently criticizing Trump.

Trump did not provide any evidence for claims that Gugino has antifa ties or that he faked his fall. His source, an OANN video, is from the conservative, far-right One America News Network known for promoting conspiracy theories.

Trump has described Atifa, an anti-fascist movement, as a domestic terrorist organization and blamed the collective on violence in cities where protests have occurred since Floyd died on Memorial Day when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The Associated Press reports more than 85% of those arrested by police during protests and riots in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., were local residents. Only a small number of the 217 people arrested in those two epicenters for civil unrest appeared to have any affiliation with organized groups, according to court records, employment histories, social media posts and other sources of information.

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