BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The alarming video of a 75-year-old protester getting knocked to the ground by Buffalo police Thursday night has been seen more than 70 million times by viewers around the world.
Ironically the video was captured by a radio reporter, veteran WBFO correspondent Mike Desmond, during a confrontation between Buffalo police and protesters demonstrating against police abuse.
The protester, identified as Martin Gugino, 75, of Amherst was shoved by two uniformed police officers and fell backwards, striking his head on the sidewalk.
Desmond said Gugino was bleeding from a head wound before he was transported by ambulance to the Erie County Medical Center.
“I had heard his head hit the ground and I knew it was wrong and I yelled for somebody to do something.”
While Desmond reports the news primarily with his voice, he was using the camera of his cell phone to record Thursday’s violent confrontation.
“You had a number of TV cameras rolling, you had a lot of people with cell phones–I can think of at least one more radio station that had somebody with a cell phone rolling–and just again, the idea of doing this with everyone watching.”
Gugino is known to be a grassroots peace and justice activist, and is affiliated the People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo), and the Western New York Peace Center.
Vicki Ross, executive director for the WNY Peace Center, said Gugino has been known to go just about anywhere to protest against injustice and weapons of war.
“I have known him since about 2008. He is just a man very much of principles, of ideas, of peace and justice.”
How does Desmond believe his dramatic video might affect police in the future? “Whatever happens, there will be somebody there with some form of camera. They need to understand that.”
Martin Gugino was listed in stable condition at ECMC, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he is praying for Gugino’s full recovery.
The two as-yet-unnamed Buffalo police officers involved in the altercation with Gugino have been suspended without pay, and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation.