BUFFALO – Hundreds of law enforcement officials gathered outside two Buffalo courts on Saturday to support two police officers who are expected to be charged with criminal charges for pushing an elderly protester to the ground during a march against racism.
Police and firefighters supported the officers as the crowd opened a black umbrella and held a black sheet to deny WGRZ television news cameras the images of the two officers as they emerged from a waiting room behind Frank A. Sedita City Court.
The crowd then marched to the county courthouse, where WGRZ reported that the two agents were “virtually taken to trial” in the city court. Umbrellas were reopened to television cameras, which captured images of hundreds of firefighters and police officers, some of whom wore shirts that read “We back the Blue.”
Two members of the Buffalo Police emergency response team were suspended unpaid on Thursday and are being investigated after a local radio station released a video of the incident involving the demonstrator, Martin Gugino. He reportedly remains in an intensive care unit at a hospital (ICU).
“I can’t confirm details until a charge has been brought,” said Kait Munro, a spokeswoman for Erie’s prosecutor, John Flynn.
The city of western New York City, like many cities in the United States, saw looting in the dark, where numerous otherwise peaceful protests were committed after the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told reporters he did not request that the officers be fired.
“That investigation is ongoing – I asked to move quickly,” said Brown. “It is very important that the officers know they are going through a fair trial.”
“Our information was that the person was an agitator – he was trying to rouse the crowd,” said Brown. “What was reported to me was that the person was an important instigator.”
He praised Governor Andrew Cuomo for sending the state police to join the city’s police to ensure security in Buffalo. Brown said at 8 p.m. – The curfew at 5 p.m. will remain in effect until Monday morning.
Gugino is a longtime activist who has advocated for affordable housing, climate justice, and police liability and has regularly protested outside of the Erie County Holding Center, a prison in Buffalo under investigation for a series of prisoner deaths, according to John Washington, a community organization. who has known him for a decade.