It didn’t take long for Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to do an about-face in his comments about a pair of city cops shoving an elderly man to the sidewalk, leaving him with blood seeping from his ear.
Where before Brown joined the chorus of criticism against the cops by suspending them without pay and calling the incident “disheartening,” the mayor is now blaming the 75-year-old victim, Martin Gugino by describing him as an “agitator.”
“What we were informed of is that that individual was an agitator,” the mayor told local media. “He was trying to spark up the crowd of people. Those people were there into the darkness. Our concern is when it gets dark, there is a potential for violence.”
In other words, according to the mayor’s comments, it was important to physically attack the man to avoid the “potential for violence” which is typical cop logic. Also, even if Gugino was trying to “spark up the crowd,” nothing sparks up a crowd faster than a blatant act of police abuse.
The truth is, the mayor was bowing down to pressure from the police department after 57 cops resigned from the Emergency Response Team, which is the unit responsible for dealing with protests. The message is very clear. Either those cops are given the green light to physically abuse citizens at will or they will not do their job.
Brown, who has been mayor for 15 years, is not up for reelection until next year, so he is not worrying about the wrath of the voters at this time. But by blaming the victim, he just proved he is not a true representative of the people.
Brown initially suspended the cops without pay but don’t be surprised if he quietly allows them to start receiving paychecks. After all, it’s very common for these police apologist politicians to say one thing in public, then do another in private.
The two cops, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, have pleaded not guilty and are due back in court on July 20.
All 57 of the members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned from the unit Friday after the two officers were suspended. The unit members have not quit the police department but have stepped down from the tactical unit.
Attorney Kelly V. Zarcone issued a statement from Martin Gugino, the man who was pushed to the ground, saying Gugino is “a longtime peaceful protester, human rights advocate, and overall fan of the US Constitution.”
Graphic video from WBFO shows the two officers pushing Gugino down as he approached them in a public square around an 8 p.m. curfew Thursday. Gugino stumbles back and falls, and the video shows him motionless and bleeding from his head.
“Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square,” Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans said. “It doesn’t specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don’t know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.”
Gugino remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.