For over a week now, the United States has erupted with some of the largest protests that the country has seen in years, in response to the police killing of George Floyd. The incident has become such a rallying cry for activists because the killing was so blatantly wrong that it is impossible for anyone to justify, and it was all captured on video. The video is evidence of a culture of violence in policing that has been a point of contention in the country for many years, although it is a conversation that has been set aside time and time again.
As the protests have grown, they have become about more than George Floyd, and now represent a widespread push for sweeping police reforms throughout the country. During the demonstrations, police have decided to meet the protesters with heavy force, which has only served to escalate tensions further. Even more victims of police violence are being created at these protests, and there are even more disturbing videos showing police attacking peaceful people for no reason surfacing every day.
Some of the most disturbing footage seen in the past week involves children and the elderly, who have been caught in the crossfire as police indiscriminately attack crowds. This weekend in Buffalo, New York, 75-year-old Martin Gugino found himself face to face with riot police.
The exact reasons are unclear, but in videos taken from the scene, it appears that he is attempting to return a stray helmet to the officers, which must have been lost in a nearby scuffle. Without listening to anything the man is saying, the officers rushed towards him, and one of them pushed him to the ground. When Gugino fell to the ground, blood instantly began to rush from his head and form on a pool on the ground.
The video quickly spread across social media and resulted in two of the officers being suspended with pay, pending further investigation. The actions were condemned by the city, and pretty much anyone who watched the video, but the city's police union is standing by the officers. Not only that, but the entire Emergency Response Team that was with them that day, 57 officers in all, will be resigning from the team. However, they will still be employed with the police department, they will just not be a part of the protest response, or involved with other similar emergencies.
"If they resigned, I'm exceptionally disappointed by it because it indicates to me that they did not see anything wrong with the actions last night," Poloncarz said after being asked about the ERT Team resigning. pic.twitter.com/gbQ4Z7vKr5
— News 4 Buffalo (@news4buffalo) June 5, 2020
When asked about the large wave of resignations, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz expressed disappointment that the other officers did not see anything wrong with what happened to Mr. Gugino.
Buffalo Police Benevolent Association president John Evans says that he supports the officers who were suspended and says that they were simply following the orders that they were given. Meanwhile, citizens of Buffalo and many commenters online are calling for the officers to not only be fired, but to be arrested and charged as well.
Although Mr. Gugino was hospitalized after the incident, he is luckily expected to make a full recovery.