Trump Falsely Targets Buffalo Protester, 75, as ‘Antifa Provocateur’

I sincerely wish Mr. Gugino a speedy recovery.

Trump’s vile and obscene comment is to be expected. The only way to mitigate the behavior of this dangerous clown is to toss him from office 147 days from now.

Excerpted from New York Times 6.9.2020

The president attacked Martin Gugino even as the activist was in the hospital recovering from a head wound sustained when the police shoved him to the ground.

The tweet on Tuesday, which appeared to accuse Mr. Gugino of having instigated or even faked the encounter, was not the first time Mr. Trump has sought to blame Antifa — a word that describes a loose collective of anti-fascist activists — for encouraging what has now been nearly two weeks of nationwide demonstrations.

Hours after the tweet was posted, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lashed out at Mr. Trump, saying that he should “apologize” and “show some humanity.” Mr. Cuomo said the tweet was “all made up,” adding that he was shocked the president would accuse Mr. Gugino of being an anti-fascist plant without any evidence.

It is true, his friends admitted, Martin Gugino was an activist, a seasoned peacenik who in a lifetime of protest had taken part in demonstrations against military drones, climate change, nuclear weapons and police brutality.

Buffalo assualt II 6.6.2020

But Mr. Gugino was also a football fan, they said, a mild-mannered bachelor and a Buffalo native who returned to his hometown some years ago to care for his ailing mother.

The one thing he was not, however, those who knew him said, was what President Trump claimed he was on Twitter Tuesday morning: a wily Antifa provocateur.

Mr. Trump’s viral tweet — none of it backed by fact — raced across the internet all day even as Mr. Gugino, 75, still lay in the hospital, recovering from the head wound he sustained on Thursday night when two Buffalo police officers shoved him to the ground at a demonstration marking the police killing of George Floyd.

A cellphone video of the encounter has now been seen by millions of people and led to charges being filed against the officers on Saturday.

But even by his own standards, Mr. Trump appeared to test the boundaries of credulity by trying to brand a retired septuagenarian computer programmer as a follower of Antifa, whose adherents are, for one thing, generally much younger.

Nate Buckley, a co-owner of the Burning Books bookstore on Connecticut Street in Buffalo, said that Mr. Gugino was a regular customer who often came to hear the speakers that he brought into his shop — everyone from figures in the Catholic Worker Movement to Princeton professors lecturing on race.

“Martin is interested in everything — he’s a very inquisitive person,” Mr. Buckley said. “He’s also a very social person with an active mind who’s always asking questions.”

Mr. Buckley said he was disturbed that Mr. Gugino — “a 75-year-old elder,” as he put it — had effectively been tarred as a thug by Mr. Trump and his supporters.

“He’s one of the most gentle people I know,” Mr. Buckley said. “He’s not aggressive at all. But people make up the most insane stories so they don’t have to deal with reality.”

Mr. Trump’s tweet seems to have been based on a report by One America News Network, a right-wing cable television channel, which claimed that Mr. Gugino had been trying to knock out the police officers’ radios with his cellphone — an idea that several of Mr. Gugino’s friends dismissed as ludicrous.