President Donald Trump tweeted another inflammatory and reckless tweet in suggesting that man injured in the controversial Buffalo police abuse case, Martin Gugino, 75, might be an “Antifa provocateur.” I previously discussed the case from a legal standpoint on the difficulty of proving assault in the second degree. However, it is highly inappropriate for a president to be spreading such claims on a case pending trial and without confirmation. We have discussed the loosely defined groups associated with Antifa but I have not seen proof that Gugino is one of those groups. The tweet is particularly distasteful given that Gugino remains in critical condition.
Trump was repeatedly an allegation first posted on One America News Network, a conservative site that he clearly favors. He tweeted
“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?”
First, the defense will likely claim that the fall was harder than the push, as we discussed. However, there is no question of the very serious injury to Gugino, who was bleeding from the head after the fall.
Second, even if Gugino was a part of the anti-fascism or the anarchist movements, he was not acting violently. He may have disobeyed an order but this conduct would not warrant such an injury. This does not mean that the officers were criminally responsible, but the attack on Gugino is unwarranted.
As Attorney General Bill Barr has stated, they suspect not only Antifa involvement but also other anarchist and even right-wing groups. Antifa was not mentioned in the first 22 criminal cases.