The 75-year-old man who police pushed to the ground amid protests in Buffalo, New York, last week has said that “Black Lives Matter” when pressed to comment on Donald Trump’s claim that he could be an “Antifa provocateur”.
Martin Gugino, who police knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack on Thursday night, told USA Today on Tuesday that “Black Lives Matter”.
He wrote: “No comment other than Black lives matter. Just out of the ICU. Should recover eventually. Thx.”
The US president had suggested earlier on Tuesday, without evidence, that Mr Gugino could have been an “Antifa provocateur”.
“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an Antifa provocateur,” wrote Mr Trump on Twitter, before accusing the 75-year-old of staging the incident, and defending police actions.
He added: “75-year-old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment.”
The president then tagged the conservative news outlet, One America News, and commented: “I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
Video showing Mr Gugino’s encounter with police in Buffalo’s Niagara Square last week was otherwise condemned.
The Buffalo resident had approached police alone when he was shoved to the ground with an audible thud, causing blood to pour from his neck.
Two cops were later suspended without pay over the incident, as politicians and commentators criticised police actions.
“What do you think, you think it was staged?”, said Mr Cuomo on Tuesday night. “You think the blood coming out of his head was staged?”
“How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean crude”, he continued.
Mr Gugino’s lawyer, Kelly Zarcone, told The Washington Post that the president’s tweet was “a dark, dangerous and untrue accusation”.
“Martin has always been a PEACEFUL protester because he cares about today’s society,” said Ms Zarcone.
Republican senator Mitt Romney added that the tweet was “shocking” and that he would not “dignify it with any further comment.”
The US president’s comments come as Black Lives Matter protests against racism and police violence continued for another week after George Floyd‘s killing in Minneapolis police custody on 25 May.
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