UPDATE, 6/6/20, 6:15pm ET: Buffalo police offers Robert McCabe, 32, and Aaron Torgalski, 39, have been charged with felony assault after shoving 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino. The two officers have pleaded not guilty, the New York Times reports “We had two of our police officers who crossed the line,” Erie County’s district attorney John J. Flynn, said according to the NYT. “My job is to prosecute those who have violated the law, plain and simple. And I believe, and I’m alleging, that these two officers violated the law,” he added.
UPDATE, 6/5/20, 4:30pm ET: A stunning 57 Buffalo police officers walked off the force today, June 5, in solidarity with the cops suspended without pay after shoving an elderly protester to the ground. The entire Emergency Response Team has resigned, according to according to WIVB reporter Dave Greber. They are still, however, employed by the Buffalo PD. The protester has now been identified as Martin Gugino, 75, a longtime peace activist. He remains in the hospital in serious condition.
ORIGINAL: The world was watching in real time as two police officers in Buffalo, New York shoved an elderly peaceful protester to the ground with no provocation. The shocking incident happened on June 4, and was caught on camera by a news crew. The unnamed man, 75, was thrown to the ground by officers in riot gear, tumbling backward and hitting his head hard on the concrete sidewalk. Blood poured out of his right ear as a crowd of police stepped around the unconscious protester, rather than coming to his aid. You can see the footage below — but warning, it contains scenes of graphic violence.
Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, were suspended after shoving a protester in this incident that was caught on video. An official said the man was hospitalized with a head injury.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 5, 2020
The protester survived and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he remains in serious condition, according to Mayor Byron Brown. Brown. The video, taken by WBFO’s Mike Desmond, contradicts the statement given by the Buffalo PD, that a person at the protest in Niagara Square “was injured when he tripped and fell.” After explosive outrage on Twitter, Instagram, and beyond, the two officers in question (unnamed at this time) have been suspended without pay and are under investigation.
Mayor Brown condemned the actions of the officers in a June 4 statement, writing, “I am deeply disturbed by this video… tonight’s event is disheartening. I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequity in the City of Buffalo. My thoughts are with the victim tonight.”
— Byron W. Brown (@MayorByronBrown) June 5, 2020
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also opposed the violent behavior shown by the officers. “The incident in Buffalo is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful,” he said in a statement. “I’ve spoken with City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and we agree that the officers involved should be immediately suspended. Police officers must enforce — NOT ABUSE — the law.”
The incident is Buffalo comes during another night in which protesters, rallying against police brutality, were met with more violence at the hands of police. Protesters have been teargassed, shot at with rubber bullets, hit with projectile bean bags, maced, and stunned with flash bombs. This includes outside the White House, where peaceful demonstrators were attacked so that President Donald Trump could stroll to a nearby church for a photo op.
Activists were rightly outraged by what they saw in Buffalo. “I can’t stop thinking about how those cops just swatted him away like a fly and then left him bleeding on the ground as they marched,” Washington Post writer Karen Attiah tweeted, horrified. “I’m haunted by that Buffalo video of an older gentleman shoved down, left prostrate+bleeding. I’m not haunted by the attack, but by the dozen officers emphatically walking over him, even stopping a peer from helping. We’ll do evil as a face in a crowd we would never do alone,” another person tweeted.
All because they’re marching with Black Lives Matter in the wake of George Floyd‘s killing at the hands of police. Floyd, an unnarmed black man, was pinned down by the neck by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, for nine minutes as he begged that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin has been arrested on charges of second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter. The three other officers present were charged with aiding and abetting. Protesters in all 50 states and around the world are also demanding justice for Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well.