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All 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team submitted their resignation from the team Friday allegedly in response to the department suspending two other team members for the sin of pushing an unruly protester.
Those two officers became public enemy number one after video footage emerged showing them pushing an elderly man who’d been hassling them in their faces as they were trying to clear out the area in front of the Buffalo City Hall on Thursday.
That man wound up falling backward, crashing to the ground and bleeding from his ear.
Watch (*Graphic content warning):
After the footage went viral, critics accused the officers of having “violently” shoved the man, thus causing him to crash to the ground and bleed from his ear. But others alleged that the officers had only gently “pushed” the man and that him falling to the ground had been the result of him simply tripping and losing his balance.
Siding with the critics, the Buffalo Police Department suspended the two involved officers without pay late Thursday and vowed to launch an internal affairs investigation.
Meanwhile, the 57 officers who resigned Friday allegedly chose to side with their colleagues.
“Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” John Evans, the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement to the Investigative Post.
“Don’t put them out there if you don’t want them to do the job. This is an example of officers doing exactly what they’re supposed to and then getting charged. It’s so wrong.”
Speaking with The Buffalo News, Evans added that the officers had simply been “following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square.”
“It doesn’t specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don’t know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.”
But an army of left-wing political figures disagree, including but not limited to Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
This incident is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.
I’ve spoken with Buffalo @MayorByronBrown and we agree that the officers involved should be immediately suspended pending a formal investigation.
Police Officers must enforce — NOT ABUSE — the law. https://t.co/EYIbTlXnPt
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 5, 2020
— Byron W. Brown (@MayorByronBrown) June 5, 2020
THREAD: @SenSchumer comments on #Buffalo video “The video was deeply disturbing and the actions taken were wrong. We need a prompt investigation and full accountability,” said US Senator Chuck Schumer.
— Hannah Buehler (@HannahBuehler) June 5, 2020
Left-wing Hollywood celebrities have also taken sides:
Re: that awful video. Buffalo PD officially said that the man tripped & fell. If we didn’t have video there would have been no accountability. Why? Because one “bad apple” pushed him down but 20 “good apples” would have let him get away with it. It’s systemic.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) June 5, 2020
That video. It’s of a peaceful situation where an elderly man is shoved to the ground by a group of Buffalo police where he cracks his head and begins to bleed out with no one rushing to his aid. I won’t retweet it because that sentence alone should make you beyond angry.
— Eugene Lee Yang (@EugeneLeeYang) June 5, 2020
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) June 5, 2020
Evans added that the two officers, both of whose names have reportedly since been outed to the public, are now facing harassment over the incident.
However, in an interview late Friday with local station WKBW, two members of BFD’s Emergency Response Team disputed Evans’ characterization of what had occurred.
“I don’t understand why the union said it’s a thing of solidarity. I think it sends the wrong message that ‘we’re backing our own’ and that’s not the case,” one of the unnamed officers said.
“We quit because our union said [they] aren’t legally backing us anymore. So why would we stand on a line for the City with no legal backing if something [were to] happen? Has nothing to do with us supporting,” another added.
The Buffalo News has confirmed that at least some of this is true.
“The union representing Buffalo police officers told its rank-and-file members Friday that the union would no longer pay for legal fees to defend police officers related to the protests,” the outlet reported.
It’s reportedly not that the union doesn’t want to help but rather that expenses are adding up too quickly.
“Last November, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Buffalo was not obligated to pay for the civil defense of Buffalo Police Officer Cory Krug, who was caught on video in 2014 striking a Lackawanna man repeatedly with a baton on Chippewa Street,” the Investigative Post reported.
“Because Krug had violated the department’s use of force policies, the court ruled, he was not working within the scope of his duty. Therefore, the city could opt out of paying his legal fees. … That judgment could put the onus on the PBA and individual officers to pay for their legal defense, PBA attorney Thomas Burton told Investigative Post in March.”
Either way, the BPD is now short of an entire Emergency Response Team to quell “protests” and riots, though the mayor assured reporters Friday that he has a “contingency plan” in place to handle the situation.
As protesters march down Niagara Square, Mayor Byron Brown holds a news conference saying they have a contingency plan to deal with the @BPDAlerts officers from resigning from the ERT. He says “Buffalo will be safe.” https://t.co/IFoo1PO8un
— Katie Gibas (@KatieGibasTV) June 5, 2020
As for the “victim,” he’s been identified as Martin Gugino, a so-called “peace activist” who’s reportedly a supporter of the Kings Bay Plowshares, a group of radical anti-nuclear activists who were convicted last year of illegally entering a nuclear submarine base.
According to reports, he was a known troublemaker.
“Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo, N.Y., said Friday the 75-year-old man who was shoved to the ground by two cops the previous day was an ‘agitator’ who had been asked to leave the area ‘numerous’ times,” Fox News confirmed early Saturday.
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