Buffalo, NY: Nearly five dozen Buffalo police officers, specially trained for civil unrest, resigned from their unit Friday after two colleagues were suspended for allegedly shoving and seriously injuring a 75-year-old protester, officials said.
The members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team quit that task force after the fallout from Thursday night’s incident, which was caught on video that went viral, according to the Police Benevolent Association.
The two officers were suspended without pay, officials said.
“Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” union president John Evans told NBC affiliate WGRZ.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown both said reinforcements from state police would be enough to keep the peace.
“We’re all going to work hard to make sure there is proper police presence on the streets in the city of Buffalo and throughout Erie County,” Poloncarz told reporters.
Brown accused the union of being a roadblock to improved police-community relations.
“This union has been on the wrong side of history for a very long period of time and they have been a real barrier to reform of policing in the city of Buffalo,” Brown told MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Friday night.
The senior citizen who was seriously injured Thursday night is longtime social justice activist Martin Gugino, an affordable housing advocacy organization he’s worked with said Friday.