U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed, without providing evidence, that a 75-year-old man who was shoved to the ground by police during an anti-Black racism protest in Buffalo, N.Y., was an Antifa provocateur.
In a tweet posted Tuesday morning, Trump said the protester — who has been identified as Martin Gugino — was “pushed away after appearing to scan police communicators in order to black out the equipment.”
Trump said he watched the video and claims Gugino “fell harder than was pushed.”
“Could be a set up?” he wrote.
Gugino’s attorney, Kelly Zarcone, told The Associated Press that Trump’s accusations “are utterly baseless and ridiculous.”
Gugino, she said, “has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today’s society.”
“No one from law enforcement has even suggested anything otherwise, so we are at a loss to understand why the president of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations about him. We can confirm that those accusations are utterly baseless and ridiculous,” she said.
Video of the incident — which occurred last Thursday — has spread widely on social media.
The video shows the elderly man falling to the ground after being pushed by two police officers during a protest over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody.
The city’s mayor, Byron W. Brown, said Gugino was taken to hospital, where he was in serious but stable condition.
Brown said he was “deeply disturbed” by the video.
“After days of peaceful protest and several meetings between myself, police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening,” he said.
On Saturday, the Erie County district attorney announced the two officers seen in the video had been charged with second-degree assault.
The demonstration in Buffalo was one of many that have sparked across the U.S. and spread internationally after the death of Floyd.
Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis, Minn., after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest.
His death acted as a catalyst, sparking mass protests over systemic racism and police brutality.
In several cities, the protests descended into chaos, with mass looting and violence reported.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that members of Antifa — a word used to define a broad group of people with far-left-leaning ideologies — are responsible for instigating the protests and the violence.
But Trump has not shared any evidence to suggest Antifa is responsible.
The president has also said the U.S. would be designating Antifa as a terrorist organization.
— With files from The Associated Press