During a protest against police brutality in Buffalo, New York, two police officers shoved a 75-year-old man onto the sidewalk. Martin Gugino, a peace activist, had stopped to talk to a group of officers in their less-than-peaceful riot gear. Within seconds, an officer repeatedly yelled, “Push him back!" Instead of responding, “Dude, he's kinda old" or “Isn't that unprovoked assault?" officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe -- who are such BIG STRONG MEN -- did just that, and Gugino fell backward, landing on the concrete, with blood spilling from his ear. He was later hospitalized.

The police are apparently under the impression that people show up at these protests to sample police brutality, like it's a farmer's market. Mike DeGeorge, a spokesman for the city and the police department, originally claimed that Gugino "tripped and fell," which is what dirty cops in movies claim happened to a suspect they'd obviously roughed up. The Ike Turner statement fell apart because WBFO, a local radio station, had video of the encounter.

From ABC News:

"Once the department became aware of additional video from the scene, they immediately opened an investigation," DeGeorge [said.]

Yes, once the officers lies were revealed as lies, the department looked into it. They are such honest, upstanding folks.


Video at Buffalo protest shows police pushing 75-year-old man www.youtube.com

Torglaski and McCabe were suspended, which their protection racket opposed, and 57 officers resigned from the emergency team but not because of their strong “don't beat up old men" position. They resented that their fellow skull busters were held accountable for their grossness.

"Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders," said John Evans, PBA president.

Nuremberg defense is not a defense. Never go full Nuremberg. The police were ordered to “clear the square," but there was probably a way for officers to do this without putting old men in the hospital -- you know, with all that training they receive (often by cops who later kill black people!)

The 57 capos didn't actually resign from the force, because that might require personal sacrifice. They're just refusing to do part of their jobs. The special response unit was formed in 2016 and is deployed to manage "mass protests" or riots, which aren't the same thing, but it's in the police's interests to conflate the two. Worse, these Stormtrooper wannabes descended on a rally with roughly 20 people in attendance. That's not a mass protest. That's the average cookout crowd at my friend Katie's house.

Torglaski and McCabe were charged Saturday with second degree assault for the obvious assault of Gugino. They were freed on their own recognizance, unlike the 2000 New York protesters who are detained in “cramped and unsanitary conditions" during a pandemic. Buffalo police officers applauded Torglaski and McCabe as the men left the courthouse like they're all goodfellas.

henry gets pinched youtu.be

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a break from defending cops all week to concede that the filmed assault of a harmless old man was "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful." It's hardly new or even the product of a tense moment in history. What you're seeing during these protests is a brief glimpse into what it's like to live in a black neighborhood under police occupation. We've tried to tell you this for years. Maybe now you'll listen.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown claimed that Gugino was an “agitator," and you know we won't let that shit stand. "Agitator" is how the government described another Martin. Both men promoted peace and non-violence. Gugino is a Catholic Worker, a movement of autonomous, social justice-centered Catholic communities that try to "live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ" and who establish houses of hospitality to provide shelter and social services to the homeless community.

Established by activist Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, the Catholic Worker movement organizes against "militarism, exploitation and racism," which would naturally put them at odds with the police. They are non-violent activists in the model of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Cesar Chavez. Maybe the cops can beat up Quakers next, because these officers are the spiritual if not physical descendants of the forces who would've attacked the Quakers who hid people escaping slavery. They were just “following orders," as well.

This incident and the police's appalling response reveal what many of us already knew: There aren't just a few "bad apples" in police departments across the country. No, American law enforcement is an overtly brutal institution, and every apple in the bunch is trained to consider brutality as not just appropriate but necessary. The police can only protect and serve by seriously injuring old men or bludgeoning women. As Americans see more videos of the police in action, even common white people are wondering just who the police are protecting and serving, other than Amy Coopers and their own inner droog. As an old woman asked a deranged general on the "Justice League" cartoon, "How many of us do you have to kill to keep us safe?"

If you protest police brutality, if you express your First Amendment rights no matter how peacefully, the police will find some reason to deliver a beatdown. The mayors enacting curfews and thus criminalizing protests aren't helping. It's a deliberate chilling effect on an essential freedom. They hope that the images of wounded old men, bleeding out on the street as heartless bastards walk right past him, keeps protesters at home with their mouths shut, but that's not going to happen.

Peaceful protesters aren't thugs. The thugs are the ones who shoved an old man to the ground. The thugs are the ones who rally to the defense of other thugs. These protests, but more importantly these videos, are showing the truth about the police. It's not about a few “bad apples" but an entire rotten apple. As Malcolm X said in his Message to the Grassroots, “I know some of you all think some of them aren't enemies. Time will tell."

That time is finally here.

And now, it is time for your open thread!

[New York Times / The Atlantic]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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