Martin Gugino (pictured) broke his silence over the June 4 attack by two officers that left him lying in a pool of his own blood
The 75-year-old peace activist who cracked his head open and was left with a brain injury after he was shoved to the ground by cops during a Black Lies Matter rally in Buffalo has called the incident ‘a turning point’ in his life and vowed to carry on protesting.
Martin Gugino, of Amherst, New York, broke his silence over the June 4 attack by two officers that left him lying in a pool of his own blood in the street in an interview with USA Today last week.
He said the night was a ‘turning point’ that sent his life in a ‘new direction’.
‘My life is headed in a new direction,’ Gugino said. ‘How is it different? I’m not really sure yet.’
The longtime activist, who spent almost a month in hospital following the attack, insisted the incident will not stop him from exercising his right to protest and participate in grassroots activism.
Gugino hit out at the government and the police who he said disregard the First Amendment right of all Americans to assemble and to petition the government for change.
‘You’re going to the White House and you’re saying, “Stop the war”,’ he said as an example.
‘That means the United States should come out and say, “Thank you so much, and we’re writing down all your complaints”.’
Gugino said he hoped law enforcement and the federal government will return to its roots in democracy and listen to protesters calling for change.
‘People are going to get together and start complaining, and realizing how they’re being treated. Are you going to invite them in?’ he said.
‘Are you going to understand what they’re up to? That’s what democracy does.’
Gugino, who suffered a skull fracture and brain injury in the unprovoked June attack, recounted how he was terrorized by nightmares and couldn’t stand or walk in the weeks following the incident.
The 75-year-old peace activist who cracked his head open and was left with a brain injury after he was shoved to the ground by cops during a Black Lies Matter rally in Buffalo has called the incident ‘a turning point’ in his life and vowed to carry on protesting. Gugino is pictured lying in a pool of blood after the June 4 attack
He said he was terrorized by nightmares and couldn’t stand or walk for weeks after the unprovoked attack and needed help to even get out of bed
He said he had to endure numerous tests and physical therapy in hospital before he could get back on his feet and couldn’t even get out of bed or go to the bathroom without the help of medical staff.
‘Every time you’d sit up, you would get dizzy,’ he said. ‘It was like you were on a boat all the time.’
The elderly cancer sufferer said he has been left with gaps in his memory of the attack and has pieced the events together by watching footage of the night.
Gugino told USA Today he had turned up to the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Buffalo on June 4 at around 7:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the 8 p.m. curfew kicked in.
He said he remembers being shocked to see cops dressed in riot gear given that, just 24 hours earlier, Buffalo cops had taken a knee in solidarity with protesters.
‘I thought, “Why are they carrying batons?”‘ Gugino recalled.
The wall of cops began marching toward the protesters at around 8:10 p.m., as seen in video footage, and Gugino approached the officers.
He told USA Today he was alarmed to see them moving toward the crowd but ‘has no idea’ what happened next or what he said to the officers.
‘I thought, “Oh my God…” and that’s all I can remember,’ he said.
Footage of the attack went viral on social media and sparked outrage over police brutality at a peaceful protest where demonstrators had gathered to demand an end to police brutality
What happened next was captured on cellphone footage that went viral and caused national and international outcry.
Two cops were caught on camera pushing Gugino to the ground, causing him to fall backwards, crack his head open on the sidewalk and leaving him lying in a pool of blood.
The incident and charges divided the nation, with calls for the cops to do jail time and for widespread police reform on one side while their law enforcement colleagues and Donald Trump came out in defense of the officers on the other.
Gugino told USA Today he encountered this divide from his hospital bed.
While cards, letters and messages of support flooded in from people wishing him well, he said his lawyers were sent angry emails calling him ‘a faker’.
‘I was like, “Go ahead, take your best shot,” the 75-year-old said.
However despite his own injuries at the hands of cops, he said he believes it is the system that is broken not the officers.
The activist insisted it will not stop him exercising his First Amendment right to protest and slammed the government and police who disregard this right. Gugino pictured third from right holding a banner at a protest over the 2014 killing of 12 year-old African American Tamir Rice
‘I come from the suburbs, and there’s no problem with police in a white neighborhood,’ he said.
‘I’m not scared of the policemen, but the system is screwed up.’
However, the 75-year-old added that ‘a lot of people are injured, and a lot of people are killed’ and nothing is done about it, especially if the incidents have not been caught on camera.
Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were arrested and charged with second degree assault following the incident.
McCabe and Torgalski were suspended without pay and each face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the class D felony.
They both pleaded not guilty and were released without bail.
Footage of the attack went viral on social media and sparked outrage over police brutality at a peaceful protest where demonstrators had gathered to demand an end to police brutality and systemic racism following the Memorial Day ‘murder’ of black man George Floyd at the hands of a white cop.
Buffalo DA John Flynn slammed the two cops saying they ‘crossed the line’ and ‘violated the law’ when they injured the ‘harmless 75-year-old man’, as he announced the charges against them.
Flynn said the severity of the charges was necessary because the law in New York states that if the victim is 65 years or older and the perpetrator is 10 years younger than them then it is classed as a felony charge.
Aaron Torgalski (left) and Robert McCabe (right) pictured in their mugs. They were each charged with one count of assault in the second degree
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also welcomed the charges against the cops after saying the footage had made him ‘physically sick’.
‘I was sick to my stomach… it was the same feeling I had for 90 of the past nights when I got the death tolls for coronavirus. I was physically sick to my stomach,’ he said of the footage back in June.
It marked just one of many shocking incidents where cops have been caught on camera violently attacking peaceful protesters in recent months, fueling mounting calls for police reform and for departments to be defunded across America.
However, Trump waded in on the incident and leveled criticism at Gugino himself.
The president made the unsubstantiated claims that Gugino is an Antifa ‘provocateur’ and even went as far as claiming the elderly victim staged the incident.
‘Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment,’ the president said in a Tweet on June 9.
At McCabe and Torgalski’s initial court hearing on June 6, hundreds of non-uniformed colleagues gathered outside the city court in a show of solidarity for the cops and greeted them with a hero’s welcome when they were released (pictured)
Trump has been slammed for his remarks and was accused of floating a ‘baseless conspiracy theory’.
The elderly man’s lawyer said he received death threats while he lay in his hospital bed for several weeks.
Law enforcement officers also sided with their two colleagues.
At McCabe and Torgalski’s initial court hearing on June 6, hundreds of non-uniformed colleagues gathered outside the city court in a show of solidarity for the cops and greeted them with a hero’s welcome when they were released.
This came after the entire Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned in outrage at the two cops’ suspension without pay.
All 57 officers in the Emergency Response Team resigned from their positions the day after the incident.
The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association said the resignations came as a show of ‘disgust’ at the treatment of their two colleagues but some cops later cast doubt on those claims.