Last Thursday, a 75-year-old retired computer engineer, Martin Gugino, was participating in a protest in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, following the indisputably unjust and horrific murder of George Floyd. Officers of the Buffalo Emergency Response Unit appeared with the intention of clearing the area in order to fulfill the newly imposed local curfew — a passionate Gugino rushed to the large group of officers, confronting them and waving his phone around — in a video that has now garnered millions of views, several of the officers clearly pushed Gugino to the ground and continued walking, leaving him completely unconscious. However, a Buffalo policeman revealed in a statement on June 4th that Gugino actually “tripped and fell,” a blatant lie that was exposed by the video footage. While the incident itself is abysmal, what may be even more lamentable was the president’s dismissive reply and latest conspiracy theory, in an attempt to delegitimize Gugino and obviate public outcries.
After the video involving Gugimo went viral, citizens continued to unite and demand for improved law enforcement practices and training. However, President Donald Trump’s reaction to the incident was in sharp contrast: this past Tuesday, in response to the video, he tweeted the following:
Essentially, Trump has created the conspiracy theory that Gugino intended to be pushed all along, and was simply trying to elicit a passionate public response as a part of a scheme for Antifa. However, there lies one major problem: there is no evidence at all to support his farfetched claim. Gugino’s friends explained that he has constantly been a part of many protests and demonstrations, including those against “military drones, climate change, nuclear weapons and police brutality.” Gugino’s attorney, Kelly Zarcone, responded: “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. He 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.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed, stating, “How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude. I mean, if there was ever a reprehensible dumb comment from the President of the United States,” Cuomo said. “At this moment of anguish and anger, what does he do? He pours gasoline on the fire.”
As President of the United States, it is vital for Trump to be able to maintain a professional attitude and refrain from spreading purely speculative ideas, especially in the current state of distress. His tweet was unintelligent and harshly accused an innocent protester.