Hundreds of people, many of them police officers, stood outside of Buffalo City Court on Saturday morning while the virtual arraignment for Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe was underway. The two Buffalo officers were recently videotaped knocking over an elderly man who was peacefully protesting police brutality, causing the man to fall back onto pavement and bleed from the head.
Shortly after video of this incident was released on the internet, Torgalski and McCabe were suspended without pay. Then 57 members of the Buffalo riot squad resigned, in what was reported as an act of solidarity with Torgalski and McCabe.
Though many politicians, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have condemned the behavior of Torgalski and McCabe, the head of their local union feels quite differently. John Evans told local news station WGRZ, “Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders.” To be clear, those officers didn’t resign from their jobs as officers, just from their roles on this special squad.
The elderly man has since been identified as Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old man known for being a longtime peaceful protester and human rights advocate. He was listed as being in serious but stable condition following the injury. You can read more about him here.
On the day of their arraignment, hundreds of police officers and civilians stood outside of city court in support of the two officers.
Torgalski is a registered Republican, according to voter information records from Erie County. He earned a salary of $81,419, in 2018, according to Government Salaries. As for McCabe, his salary isn’t listed.
Here’s what you need to know:
Videos & Photos of Buffalo Residents Showing Support for the Two Officers Accused of Severely Injuring an Elderly Protester
Madison Carter, a reporter for WKBW, has shown numerous photos and videos of the “sea of people” who came to stand outside city court in a show of support and solidarity for Torgalski and McCabe.
Carter said that she asked a group of officers what they were doing earlier in the morning. The officers were all standing around outside city court. She said they told her, “We’re just hanging out. It’s a beautiful morning.”
Mike Baggerman, another local reporter present at the city court, described the “absolute surge of officers and supporters” who went to city court in solidarity with Torgalski and McCabe.
As seen in the photos below, many of the supporters appeared to be waiting to hear the results of the arraignment. There also seemed to be protesters present at city hall, with one person holding a sign that read, “Fascists and their riot gear perpetuate the violence here.”
Local Buffalo Politicians Have Spoken Out in Defense of Torgalski & McCabe
It’s not just the Buffalo Police Union that supports Torgalski and McCabe, and showed up in solidarity to city court on Saturday.
Several city officials were also present on Saturday, and clarified their support for Torgalski and McCabe. Stefan Mychajliw, a city comptroller, tweeted, “I stand strong behind these Buffalo Police officers. I refuse to let the shining city on a hill that brought my immigrant family here come under attack and destroyed from within. Cops are under attack from agitating, extremist radicals that crave chaos. Lawlessness must end.”
It’s not clear if Buffalo Mayer Byron Brown was present on Saturday, but he did make a statement on Friday calling Gugino an “agitator,” as well as a “key and major instigator” of protests.
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