Police walk past seriously-injured Martin Gugino after he was knocked to ground by two officers, Buffalo, New York, June 4, 2020

Donald Trump launches a Twitter attack against a 75-year-old protester who was seriously injured by police officers in Buffalo, New York.

Trump fired off a tweet on Tuesday falsely accusing Martin Gugino of being part of “Antifa”, a label — short for “anti-fascist” — used by Trump supporters to denigrate the mass rallies over the murder of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Gugino was shoved to the ground last Thursday night by two Buffalo police officers. He fell backward, cracking his head on the pavement with blood seeping out of his right ear.

As rows of police marched by, one of the officers leant over and shouts at the wounded Gugino.

The long-time activist, a creator of computer databases, was initially hospitalized in critical condition with a head injury, and is now “serious but stable”.

Viral video of the incident has led to charges against the officers.

In contrast to Trump’s smear, friends described Gugino as a veteran of peace campaigns and demonstrations over military drones, climate change, nuclear weapons and police brutality. He returned to Buffalo years ago to care for his ailing mother.

Judy Metzger, 85, a longtime friend, said, “Antifa? Oh, heavens no. Martin is a very gentle, a very pleasant person.”

John Washington, 35, summarized, “He has this kind of thirst for justice. He gets very latched onto powerful ideas and tries to really experience them, not just learn them.”

The Hard-Right Conspiracy Outlet Feeding Trump

The Trump camp unsuccessfully tried to turn public opinion against the George Floyd marches, as they spread to more than 140 US cities soon after the murder, with the shout of “Antifa”.

Trump’s Tuesday attack was fed by the hard-right attack site “One America News Network”, launched in 2013 by a California businessman to assail the “left” with unsupported claims and conspiracy theories.

Trump saw OANN as a valuable outlet in his 2016 campaign and has promoted it throughout his Presidency. An OANN staffer, Chanel Rion, is placed near the front at Trump appearances and White House press briefings to ask planted questions.

Tuesday’s OANN segment on Gugino was by Kristian Rouz, a long-time conspiracy theorist. Last month, he claimed that Coronavirus was “a globalist conspiracy” by Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the Chinese government.

In 2017, Rouz made up a story about Hillary Clinton’s political action committee funding “Antifa”. He has also slandered Soros, who is Jewish, as a Nazi collaborator during World War II and a funder of migrant caravans from Central America.

After Trump was widely criticized for his smear of Gugino, Herring tweeted, “Mr. President, you haven’t let us down on doing what you say and we won’t let you down as your source for credible news!”

He promised a “follow-up report regarding Martin Gugino” in three hours. It never appeared.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke, at his daily press conference on Coronavirus, passionately challenged Trump’s tweet: “How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude….Show some decency, show some humanity”:

The Antifa Myth

Evidence for the myth of Antifa as a significant presence in the marches comes in a Reuters examination of 53 people charged by federal authorities.

Attorney General William Barr, Trump’s essential political enabler, declared a crackdown on Antifa and “extremists”.

But most of the 53 cases involve disorganized acts of violence by people with no connections to any group. In some cases, there is no allegation of a violent act.

Antifa is not mentioned in any of the 53 filings. The one faction this is mentioned, the Boogaloo Boys, is a far-right movement.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the findings. It referred Reuters to Barr’s statement on Monday that the department is still in the “initial phase of identifying people”.