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GoFundMe donations for elderly Buffalo man injured by police soar after baseless Trump tweet

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A GoFundMe page for Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old protestor knocked bloody and unconscious by Buffalo police, eclipsed its fundraising goal of $30,000 this week thanks to more than a thousand donations, many of them for $5 or $10. The GoFundMe page says the funds raised will be sent to Gugino to help pay for medical and legal fees.

The video of Gugino’s assault, which came during a protest against the death of George Floyd while under police custody, has been viewed tens of millions of times on TV and social media, and has spurred additional calls for police reform.

News reports on Tuesday stated that Gugino remains in hospital following a shove by two police officers that led him to fall and bleed from his head and ears. President Trump suggested Tuesday morning that Gugino might have staged the attack as part of a conspiracy by the fringe group Antifa.

Trump’s claim appears to be founded on a baseless report by an obscure cable channel, One America News Network, where an anchor made the nonsensical allegation that Gugino’s fall could be “the result of a false flag provocation by far left group antifa.”

In response to a question from Fortune, a Twitter spokesperson said the tweet by Trump, which some have alleged is defamatory, is “not in violation of the Twitter rules.”

Meanwhile, numerous people on Twitter came to Gugino’s defense, including a prominent Jesuit priest who noted the elderly man’s role in the Catholic Worker movement.

Gugino’s lawyer has issued a statement affirming his client’s commitment to peaceful activism, and questioning why the President made false allegations against him.

Trump’s tweet appears to have spurred a new flood of small donations and, by late Tuesday morning, the total raised for Gugino was over $34,000. The page’s organizers say the money will go to pay for any legal and medical expenses.

The two Buffalo police officers who allegedly carried out the attack on Gugino, Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, have been charged with felony assault.

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