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Trump floats unfounded theory that 75-year-old protester pushed by police is Antifa

George Floyd protests: Video shows Buffalo police officers violently shoving elderly man to the ground
WARNING: Video contains disturbing content not suitable for all viewers. Discretion is advised. Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault Saturday, prosecutors said, after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old protester in recent demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

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.”

READ MORE: George Floyd — Trump blames Antifa for ‘violence,’ but experts raise doubts

Trump said he watched the video and claims Gugino “fell harder than was pushed.”

“Could be a set up?” he wrote.

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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.

George Floyd protests: Republican Senators react to Trump’s tweet speculating that Buffalo protester could be ‘Antifa provocateur’
George Floyd protests: Republican Senators react to Trump’s tweet speculating that Buffalo protester could be ‘Antifa provocateur’

READ MORE: Buffalo, N.Y., police officers caught on video pushing 75-year-old to ground suspended

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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.

George Floyd protests: 2 officers seen violently shoving elderly man to ground charged with 2nd degree assault
George Floyd protests: 2 officers seen violently shoving elderly man to ground charged with 2nd 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.

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His death acted as a catalyst, sparking mass protests over systemic racism and police brutality.

READ MORE: George Floyd protesters heartened by swift reform but seek broader change

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.

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— With files from The Associated Press