Activist Martin Gugino was among the protesters who gathered at Buffalo City Hall at 65 Niagara Square in Buffalo, New York, United States on June 4, 2020. It was one of the recent Black Lives Matter protests after the fatal arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
During the protest, Gugino was trying to speak with the Buffalo Police Department when the elderly man was pushed to the ground by officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, who were wearing tactical gear. Videos of the encounter were viewed by millions including Buffalo mayor Byron W. Brown, who said he was “deeply disturbed” by it.
Buffalo resident Jamie Quinn, who was there taking photos, told USA Today that there was “blood dripping” out of Gugino’s ear. The incident took place when the protest was finishing and the police officers were clearing the area of Niagara Square directly in front of the Buffalo City Hall, WBFO reported.
Sustaining a head injury, Gugino was hospitalized in the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. On June 5, 2020, McCabe and Torgalski were suspended without pay so all the 57 officers from the Emergency Response Team of the Buffalo PD resigned as a protest.
On June 6, 2020, McCabe and Torgalski turned themselves in. They were charged with second-degree assault and they both pleaded not guilty.
Gugino is not a violent person based on the descriptions of his friends Terrence Bisson shared John Washington. Both Bisson and Washington met Gugino through their works as activists.
Bisson told The Buffalo News that Gugino is “a gentle person who really believes that he must stand up for what he thinks is right.” The two have worked together on Latin American issues.
Washington told The New York Post that Gugino has been “at every important protest in Buffalo in the past 10 years.” Here are 13 more facts about the long-time peace activist:
- Born in 1945, he grew up in Buffalo.
- From Buffalo, he moved to Cleveland, where he worked in computer technology.
- From Cleveland, he returned to Western New York and worked with several activists.
- He actively supported the Kings Bay Plowshares, a group of anti-nuclear activists convicted of entering a nuclear submarine station in Georgia, USA.
- He lives in Amherst in Erie County, New York.
- He is the treasurer of the People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo, a community organization dedicated to affordable housing, equitable jobs and ecological sustainability for the West Side of Buffalo.
- He worked with Witness Against Torture, a group calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
- He worked with the Western New York (WNY) Peace Center, a human rights group based in Buffalo.
- In November 2019, he was a guest speaker at an annual dinner for the Western New York Peace Center.
- He was politically active on social media and a staunch critic of Donald Trump.
- Greta Thunberg condemned his encounter with the Buffalo PD.
- Patricia Arquette called his encounter with the Buffalo PD elderly abuse.
- After his encounter with the Buffalo PD, he is represented by Kelly V. Zarcone.