PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has suggested the 75-year-old man who was filmed being shoved to the ground by police in Buffalo, upstate New York, was part of “set up” orchestrated by far-left activists.
Peace activist Martin Gugino was admitted to intensive care after suffering a serious head injury in the incident, which sparked fury across the world.
While police in Buffalo initially claimed Mr. Gugino “tripped and fell”, an internal investigation subsequently saw both of the officers involved charged with second-degree assault.
Despite these charges, Mr Trump suggested in a tweet that the “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur.”
He added: “75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin 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?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
The President has consistently cited ANTIFA, a nebulous Leftist and anti-facist movement, as one of the chief instigators of much of the unrest witnessed across the US in the past two weeks.
Last week, Mr Trump even outlined plans to designate the group as a terrorist organisation.
That comes despite the fact ANTIFA refers to a wide spectrum of left-wing groups, opposed to the far right, rather than one fully-formed organisation.
The President’s theory on Mr. Gugino echoes one first presented by One America News, a conservative news channel that Mr. Trump watches alongside Fox News.
Responding to the claims, a lawyer for Mr. Gugino, Kelly Zarcone hit out at the President’s claims.
“There is no need to go around name calling, accusing people of being things they’re not," she said.
“Martin has always been a peaceful protester, I don’t know where that comes from.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also desribed the remarks as “cruel & reckless”.
He tweeted: “The president is tweeting conspiracy theories about the Buffalo incident based on no evidence, no proof. Was the blood coming out of his head staged? Were our eyes lying to us? No.
"The man is still in the hospital & the president is disparaging him. It's cruel and reckless.”
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
A retired database worker and long-time anti-racism and anti-nuclear activist, Mr. Gugino has been taken out of intensive care but remains in hospital.
“Martin has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today’s society,” Ms Zarcone told WBFO News
“We are at a loss to understand why the president of the United States would make such dark, dangerous and untrue accusations against him.”