Great Britain

Buffalo mayor claims protester pushed to ground was ‘agitator trying to rile up the crowd’ – and says he won’t fire cops

THE 75-year-old "peace" activist who was shoved to the ground by cops was allegedly an "agitator" who tried to rile up the crowd in Buffalo, the mayor said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has addressed the confrontation between Martin Gugino and police officers in New York, saying on Friday that law enforcement officials were told he was a "major instigator" of vandalism and looting.

"What we were informed of is that individual was an agitator. 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," Brown told reporters at a press conference.

"There has been vandalism, there have been fires set, there have been stores broken into and looted.

"According to what was reported to me, that individual was a key major instigator of people engaging in those activities."

Gugino had been asked to leave "numerous times" at the Thursday night demonstrations against racial injustice, according to the mayor.

Brown also said he won't call for the firing of the two officers involved amid an ongoing investigation, adding it was "very important they get due process".

The two cops who caused Gugino to fall and crack his head open on the sidewalk are expected to be charged on Saturday, according to WGRZ.

The charges comes a day after a Change.org petition called for the firing of officer Aaron Torgalski, who was unofficially named as one of the men involved.

He also admitted the Buffalo Police Department's initial statement, which said Gugino had "tripped and fell", was a rushed "error".

"I will be the first to say that initial communication was an error but it was a desire to respond to media inquiries really quickly and to provide information to the community quickly," the mayor said.

Once video footage of the incident surfaced, Brown said the department corrected its statement and acted immediately.

When asked about the officers who resigned in solidarity with the suspended cops, he said the city had "contingency plans" and assured that "Buffalo will be safe this weekend".

"I want people out in our community peacefully protesting to know everyone who is peacefully protesting will be protected," Brown said.

All 57 officers reportedly resigned as a "show up support for the officers who are suspended without pay"after shoving Gugino.

"The SWAT and Riot teams of the Buffalo Police Department have resigned their special assignments," a police source said, according to WHAM radio talk-show host Bob Lonsberry.

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo decried the footage of Gugino's assault as "offensive and frightening" at his daily press briefing on Friday and said the cops who pushed him could face criminal charges.

"You see that video and it disturbs your basic sense of decency and humanity. Why? Why was that necessary?," Cuomo said.

"An older gentleman. Where was the threat? And then you just walk by the person when you see blood coming from his head.

"It’s just fundamentally offensive and frightening. It's just frightening."

A full Internal Affairs investigation is pending after the disturbing footage emerged on Thursday.

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