Buffalo’s mayor on Friday defended his police officers amid various uproars over their conduct in ongoing protests in the city against police brutality.
Brown, who had earlier said he was “deeply disturbed” by video of law-enforcement officers shoving 75-year-old activist Martin Gugino to the ground, said on Friday he is not calling for the involved officers to be fired—though they have been suspended and charged with assault. “There were conflicts between protesters, there was a danger of fights breaking out between protesters, and the police felt it was very important to clear that scene for the safety of protesters,” he said. But Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said on Saturday that the officers could have arrested Gugino if he was committing a crime. “You arrest him. You don’t take a baton and shove him.”
Elsewhere in the press conference, Brown defended another incident in which a reporter claimed an individual was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors despite peacefully protesting. Mayor Brown said he was informed that the unidentified man was a “key and major instigator” of activities such as vandalism and looting, and “was asked to leave numerous times” before his arrest. “That individual was an agitator,” the mayor said. “He was trying to spark up a crowd of people.”
Correction: This article previously claimed Mayor Brown referred to 75-year-old activist Martin Gugino as a “major instigator,” but upon review of audio from the press conference, it is clear he was referring to a separate incident involving an unnamed individual who was arrested. The Daily Beast regrets the error.