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Our nation deserves better

George Floyd and his family were owed a memorial to his full but tragically shortened life. Tuesday was a day of preaching and singing, praising and remembering.

He was always more than a man who was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police, even before his death reignited a national movement. He was a college athlete and father, a tall and gentle man who’d had interactions with the law but tried to move beyond them, a man who embraced his church and whose beloved mother’s name was reportedly tattooed on his body. These were the kinds of memories being celebrated on Tuesday in Houston and around the country.

But President Donald Trump’s mind was apparently elsewhere.

Tuesday morning he tweeted a wild conspiracy theory about the 75-year-old Buffalo protester who was shoved by an elite police unit last week and had his head cracked open.

Martin Gugino, who spent a lifetime protesting injustice and demanding peace, had gone out to protest Floyd’s death. Two men, one black and one white, connected by brutal policing. Gugino spent days in the hospital because of his injury — he told a reporter Tuesday he was “Just out of the ICU” — which officers noticed but ignored as he lay motionless on his back, blood pooling around his head. Two officers involved were charged with assault. The same kind of sickening video led Tuesday to a New York City police officer being charged after he viciously knocked a young woman to the ground at a Brooklyn protest.

But Trump told his 82 million Twitter followers Tuesday morning that Gugino “could be an antifa provocateur.”

He speculated that the senior citizen was “appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment,” a zany charge that appeared on a blog called “The Conservative Tree House” that suggests without real evidence that Gugino “was attempting to capture the radio communications signature of Buffalo police officers.” Trump cited in his message One America News Network, which spread the conspiracy.

Pick which part of Trump’s tweet is most infuriating.

The fact that the leader of the free world whose intelligence community consists of 17 agencies gets his information from a baloney blog and bad TV outlet?

Or the way that Trump says he reacted upon seeing the bloody video of Gugino — “I watched, he fell harder than was pushed” — a desperate attempt to clear the police he relies on for his law-and-order politics?

Or the reality that this ugly nonsense is what occupied the president’s mind on the day George Floyd was buried?

Floyd deserves better. He deserves a president who would try to heal the nation, not fan the flames of conspiracy. He deserves decades more to live, not a spot next to his deceased mother in an early Texas grave. He deserved better than he got, from life during his hard years on earth and from the president after death. America does, too.

* Guest editorial from Newsday in New York.

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