In the wake of protests against the murder of George Floyd by police, the internet has been inundated with videos of police slashing tires, shooting reporters with rubber bullets, tasing college-age drivers, and committing other acts widely believed to be a dangerous overuse of force.
One of the most-watched videos of police brutality during the protests came out of Buffalo, New York, where tactical police were recorded shoving 75 year old peace activist Martin Gugino. Gugino fell to the ground and began bleeding from his ear. The police initially didn't stop to aid the man, and in a statement, they said he'd merely tripped.
You can watch the video below, but be warned, it's somewhat graphic.
Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, were suspended after shoving a protester in this incident that was caught… https://t.co/xixzFHCDLP— The New York Times (@The New York Times)1591331108.0
The video has since gone so viral, it reached the eyes of President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday morning, the President tweeted speculation that the 75 year old protestor was an "ANTIFA provocateur" who was attempting to disable police equipment.
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after… https://t.co/aFgYc1MCfD— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1591706079.0
The President tagged the far-Right media outlet One America News Network before asking if the whole thing could've been a setup.
The tweet was baffling and alarming to the President's Twitter followers, and especially to CNN fact checker Daniel Dale, whose real-time fact checks of the President have earned national praise.
But this time, Dale was stumped.
A "fact check" is sometimes inadequate.— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale)1591709460.0
Once Dale had picked his jaw off the floor, he and other journalists began looking into the origin of the President's false claim.
Apparent information flow: - Some people on the Internet → - The website Conservative Treehouse → - A Russian state… https://t.co/mkr6Cvu8Mz— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale)1591709923.0
The original article cited by OAN on the “Conservative Treehouse” website was written by an anonymous person who pu… https://t.co/nlz0swkMPw— Jon Passantino (@Jon Passantino)1591710670.0
The lawyer for Martin Gugino said:
"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 against him."
People agreed with Dale: A fact check was not adequate.
@ddale8 Yes, clinical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for trump is more appropriate at times— single issue voter 🌎🌍🌏 (@single issue voter 🌎🌍🌏)1591709576.0
@ddale8 A welfare check is what’s needed.— Lori Wells (@Lori Wells)1591709523.0
@ddale8 How about the 25th amendment, instead?— Jay Lionel (@Jay Lionel)1591709619.0
As you can likely imagine, the President's claim was met with widespread backlash.
@realDonaldTrump @OANN Despicable.— The Lincoln Project (@The Lincoln Project)1591706397.0
@realDonaldTrump @OANN #MartinGugino is a peace activist and volunteer with the Catholic Worker movement. Why sprea… https://t.co/dDYIM12YwH— James Martin, SJ (@James Martin, SJ)1591710689.0
@realDonaldTrump @OANN You are actual worst person in the world.— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal)1591711607.0
@realDonaldTrump @OANN You are a terrible person. SHAME— Mia Farrow (@Mia Farrow)1591706955.0
@realDonaldTrump *This tweet is completely irresponsible. *Martin Gugino is a long-time peace activist who has cam… https://t.co/9MzYfHIir0— Jim Roberts (@Jim Roberts)1591710099.0
Many of the President's supporters on Twitter are now trying to defend the President's claim by smearing Gugino.
The two officers seen pushing him have since been charged.