BUFFALO, N.Y. — A 75-year-old protester who had been hospitalized with a severe head injury after being shoved by police and falling backward plans to press on with his grassroots activism.
“My life is headed in a new direction,” Martin Gugino said in an interview with USA TODAY Network’s New York State Team. “How is it different? I’m not really sure yet.”
Video of Gugino falling to the ground after being pushed by two Buffalo police officers clearing a George Floyd demonstration site in June drew worldwide criticism. The veteran activist was seen bleeding from his head as officers walk away. The officers have pleaded not guilty to assault.
Gugino was hospitalized with a fractured skull and brain injury for about a month. He said he doesn’t remember the moment he was shoved. But he recalled that police moving toward the crowd were outfitted with helmets, vests and batons:
“I thought, ‘Why are they carrying batons?’” he said.
The retiree was able to walk out of the hospital using a cane. He is living with family outside of New York and plans to move soon to Buffalo. He had lived in nearby Amherst.
Gugino said he was unfazed by accusations that he was a leftist provocateur or that he was involved in a hoax.
“I was like, ’Go ahead, take your best shot,” he said.
He said he still regards police as regular citizens who work within a system he believes is broken.
“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.”