Buffalo police shove elderly 75-year-old man

The Whole Damn Barrel is Bad

Enough with the myth that the cops beating protesters are only a handful of "bad apples."
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We’re all familiar with the proverb, “one bad apple ruins the whole barrel.” Sometimes it’s a bushel, or a bunch, or a basket, but while the phrasing changes, the meaning remains the same. It’s a well-worn refrain of politicians and police chiefs who trot it out whenever the cops are behaving badly. This is meant to reassure the public that we shouldn’t fear the police, that these violent, corrupt individuals are the exception and not the norm when it comes to the men and women in blue.

But the past week of protests have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is not just a few bad apples. The whole barrel is rotten and must be thrown out entirely. Of course, people of color and those paying attention have known this for quite some time. But America has never experienced the international exposure of our violent and vicious police presence in this way before.

Social media is flooded with countless images and videos of cops brutally beating protesters, attacking crowds, and inciting panic. These images are traumatic and painful to watch, and the shock of viewing them is eclipsed by the brazen, openly repugnant behavior of the cops themselves.

After the video of Martin Gugino, 75, being pushed down by the Buffalo police went viral, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski without pay and ordered an internal investigation. This was, of course, after the Buffalo police’s spokesperson claimed that Gugino “tripped and fell.”

In response to the suspensions, all 57 officers have resigned from Buffalo’s Emergency Response Team. And they didn’t resign in protest of the behavior; they resigned in solidarity with the cops that shoved Gugino to the ground and walked over his bleeding body. The barrel is bad.

The cops have since been charged with felony second-degree assault and have entered a plea of not guilty. Gugino remains in serious but stable condition. The charges were made this morning, which Erie County District Attorney John Flynn
Flynn delayed because he “didn’t want to pour gasoline on the fire” after he learned about the mass resignation. “I was generally concerned about what could potentially happen if I did this yesterday afternoon and there wasn’t enough security downtown,” he said, “so I decided to do it this morning.” That’s right, the DA was pressured into delaying charges because he was worried the cops wouldn’t do their jobs. The barrel is bad.

Once the officers left the courthouse, they were greeted with a round of applause from the cops who resigned on their behalf. You can watch the video below showing the crowd cheering for the two men who shoved an elderly man to the ground.

As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I often wonder how Hitler managed to mobilize an entire country of people to commit genocide. Was there not one nazi disturbed by the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children? Was there not one soldier sickened by the starving bodies wasting away as they performed manual labor? Were all these people just following orders or do they collectively lack a soul?

The same question could be asked of any soldier or employee of an authoritative regime. How can you support this violence, this hatred, this brutality? How can you walk over the body of a bleeding man in the street? How can you kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes until he stops breathing? And how are you SO emboldened by your acts that you perform them willingly in front of dozens of cameras?

For every police officer walking by, or looking away, or standing in solidarity with these bad apples, I have bad news for you. You’re just as rotten. The fight you’re so desperate to have is happening and history will remember you as monsters. The barrel is bad, and the people are coming to burn your orchard down.

(via CNN, image: screengrab)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.