U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday promoted an unfounded claim that a 75-year-old man critically injured by police in Buffalo may have been trying to sabotage police equipment on behalf of an extremist group.
The video showing Buffalo cops shove a 75-year-old man to the ground provoked outrage against police and prompted felony charges against two officers.
But the footage also became fodder for unfounded conspiracy theories about the man being shoved.
And on Tuesday, one of these baseless claims was trumpeted by the president of the United States.
Donald Trump tweeted, "Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur." His apparent defense of the cops who shoved and critically injured 75-year-old Martin Gugino is in stark contrast with the reaction of local officials.
The Erie County executive said he was sickened by the video.
"What we saw last night in front of city hall is not acceptable here." The Erie County District Attorney who charged the cops implored the police to "think about the oath they took when they were sworn in as police officers and think about what they promised to do to protect our community." And on Tuesday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the president's tweet "a reprehensible, dumb comment, and from the President of the United States.
The Washington Post reported that Gugino was active with human rights and affordable housing groups, and part of the Catholic Worker Movement.
The district attorney said that Gugino was taken to the hospital, treated for a head injury, loss of consciousness, and bleeding from the right ear.
The president and his administration have tried to blame a group called Antifa after some anti-racist protests devolved into looting and arson.
In his tweet on Tuesday, Trump tagged the far-right site One America News Network in the tweet.
He appeared to be repeating an elaborate and unsupported claim by that channel that the man shoved was using an app on his mobile phone to interfere with police communications.
Trump wrote, "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?" In a statement, an attorney for Gugino on Tuesday said, "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... we are at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations against him."