Trump Tweets about Pushed Buffalo Protestor Scanning to Jam Police Radios with an RTL-SDR and Android Phone

In political news 75 year old Buffalo protestor Martin Gugino has been generating controversy due to a video of him being pushed to the ground by a police officer, then subsequently lying motionless while bleeding from the head and being ignored by other officers.

Recently US president Donald Trump tweeted about a video news report by "One America News" (OAN) indicating that Gugino may have been trying to scan police with a "capture scanner". Whilst talking about the capture scanner they show an image of an RTL-SDR dongle and Android phone running the SDR Touch software. OAN go on to say that these capture scanners are designed to "skim microphones" in order to capture police communications, and are a tool commonly used by Antifa. Credit to @hackerfantastic for initially tweeting about the RTL-SDR being featured in the video.

Trump's tweet reads "Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment @OANN
I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?".

We're not entirely sure where this theory from OAN came from as there is no need to get so close in order to listen to police radio communications, since if unencrypted, they can be listened to from anywhere in the city. It's also unclear as to what microphones police would be using, and how these could be "skimmed" with an RTL-SDR. As for blacking out the equipment, an RTL-SDR cannot transmit so it would be impossible to use to jam the radios. An illegal jammer could be used after scanning, but police frequencies are already well known anyway, and there would be no need to scan for them so close even if low power comm links were used.

The video also shows that he appears to be filming police badge numbers with his phone before he was pushed, so it is unlikely that he was using an RTL-SDR and running SDR Touch at the same time as the camera app. No cables, antenna or dongle can be seen in the video either.

In the past we have seen a Slovenian researcher almost jailed for performing University research with an RTL-SDR, and a UN expert arrested for possessing an RTL-SDR in Tunisia. So this is a timely reminder to be careful as police and media do not always understand what an SDR is.

EDIT: Please note that this is not a political post or blog. We only post it to highlight the severe lack of understanding that can surround SDR and our technical hobbies. Comments inciting violence against protestors or anyone are NOT OK, and will be removed. Please keep discussions technical and civil in nature.

OAN indicates that Martin Gugino may have used an RTL-SDR on police
OAN indicates that Martin Gugino may have used an RTL-SDR "capture scanner" on police

45 comments

  1. Demian Sims

    The fact that there’s still folks in an intelligent hobby like ours who support this pos potus is incredible. Thank God Joe is beating him by double digits in the polls. Let’s put this horrible chapter in American history behind us. We also need a paradigm shift in policing. The existing roots and entrenched attitudes of police unions have got to go.

    • Bruce Robertson

      Your post is not technical in nature therefore not appreciated. Your lack of respect for for those who give so freely and willing to our hobby speaks volumes and reflects negatively on yourself. It rips at the very fabric of our community. Please reconsider posting any politics. It only divides us and diminishes us. We are better together.

    • Karl Krogmann

      Amen brother. I am horrified on a daily basis by this racist buffoon. It will take the United States at least a generation to recover from the damage done by this bottom-feeder, this pig with a pinky ring.

      Hey Bruce? Get over it.

  2. DC_2_LIGHT

    The interesting point I take from all these comments,
    Is that those of you who immediately jumped to Destroy Trump
    instead of talking about the SDR aspect of this article.
    You showed little to no respect for RTL-SDR.com, tact or professional behavior.
    Do you really think Trump had the time or technical knowledge to write that statement?
    Doesn’t it sound far more probable some liberal flunky pumped info to the person
    who writes his responses to news…
    Just to ring your bell? Worked like a charm!
    You guys make Pavlov’s dog look like an untrained pup!
    Now show some respect for the people who work very hard to provide this web page!

    • Neon

      lol, it’s not trump’s fault, it’s the liberals! How can you take yourself seriously while spouting BS like that. Trump listens to no one but the demons in his head.

      • Gary Notmine

        I agree that trump listens to no one except the demons in his head.

        He clearly has no business in public, much less politics, but he makes for an interesting sociological study. When does liability really occur in some cases? Do we blame him for being slow of wit and mentally ill? Which is worse, the fool, or those who follow him? We obviously cannot excuse, say, Jeffrey Dahmer just because he was mentally ill, but trump hasn’t (directly and intentionally) killed anyone yet, as far as we know. How much lattitude does his illness give him?

        I wouldn’t think twice about “One News” trying to claim that Gugino was doing something nefarious. While it IS a little surprising that those folks even know what a SDR is, it isn’t unbelievable that they tried to demonize him, given their politics and willingness to ignore truth, and they decided to do it in a way their, ahem, “unworldly” readers wouldn’t be familiar with. They couldn’t say that he had a gun, or that he was committing an overt crime, because that would have been reported elsewhere. Instead, they “one-upped” legitimate media by inventing a complex sounding crime their readers would be unfamiliar with.

        I, for one, would have preferred that they claimed that he was using gray lizard alien technology to hypnotize babies or something, but hey, they took their best shot.

  3. 44dmr3

    OANN and Trump may not understand the hobby. A lot of us on the right do though and understand it well, share knowledge, inform and correct false information.

    But a lot of you can keep your delusions about Trump supporters being bumpkins and backwoods who have nothing resembling intelligence. Or think we’re bots. Whatever makes you feel like you’re superior. Such arrogance affects nothing, other than you trying to fluff your egos.

    • Karl

      You gained a viewer. He thumped his helmet on the cement, had a fake tube running in his bag strap, through his mask and behind his ear. pump bulb in left hand. Photo op. Of course, he’s recovered.

  4. Philip Collier

    If you thought the Trumpist cult would have more sense than to believe the nonsense of an intercept operation based on an old man with an RTL-SDR and phone, think again. I have tried it in the past, and it is a low grade, unreliable way to capture data. The Buffalo trunked system is a known known anyway. Not plausible and not an excuse for young, strong cops to be violent to an old man.

    There is no bottom to this snake pit. There is always a way to blame the weak for being eaten by the strong. Always an excuse for incompetent leaders to continue failing to lead. At least a train wreck the parts stop movig. When it comes to unrest, it can continue to degrade. Until competent leadership brings water to the fire instead of gasoline.

  5. jhill

    at a protest, anyone nearby can overhear police calls via the walk-e-talkes the cops are wearing over the speaker/mic if you are nearby… no radio or decoder is needed. if the cops were on the ball they would be recording video of everything as well… but this was a rush response with many cops who didn’t respond as a team but more of a ‘police-riot’ as we have seen MANY times before. better use of SDR transmitters would be to override the fox news signals and remove the propaganda overload or at least add a few comments and fact checks to the live broadcasts or get in the live reporters video shot with a big ass sign…. like this one I used … as seen on Larry King Live on CNN….
    https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2000/10/04/nab1.jpg
    then the live newscast is live on your street get out there and change the narrative… to the truth !

  6. Jeff Stennett

    In a court of law, there’s such thing as “hearsay,” no proof, just basically gossip, or your enemy just making up any story they want to spread….the Bible’s Commandments call it “Bearing false witness against thy neighbor.”

    Hearsay is totally inadmissible in a court of law, but that doesn’t stop Trump, …or OAN, or Fox….or Russian or North Korean “news,” from deliberately using hearsay to mislead and manipulate the gullible public, and divert blame and responsibility…and GUILT away from Trump, or in this case, the police….

    …another common tactic…”blame the victim.”

    It’s time this disgrace comes to an end, and we get back to grown-up government.

  7. Kim Wilson

    Trump just repeated what he was given by a bad joker unconsered about truth. Not that Trump was worried about truth either. Crap about SDR is bad as those who don’t know will jump to ignorant assumptions.

  8. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    Radio might as well be magic to many non-technical people. They really do not understand what it is or why it works the way it does. The problem is that if the public doesn’t understand why things work, they won’t know enough to keep it running, make reasonable regulations or law, and prosecute the offenders.

    The US Federal Communications Commission should actually be pretty good at writing regulations that make some sense from a technical perspective. And yet, the common complaint I have seen since the 1970s is that they are more a political than an engineering endeavor. In fact, the FCC is largely run by attorneys while engineers are relegated to the broom closets.

    And so the president’s rant is merely one of a very long line of weird happenings that occur on the boundary of technical and political policy. This is a common refrain and it hasn’t gotten any better with age. Until we start teaching attorneys that ignorance of technology is no excuse for a bad law, this will continue to be an issue.

  9. Velveeta

    Wow the Putin/Trump trolls came out in force… the old guy was clearly taking photos of the cops badge numbers with his phone… making up any other stories is just sad. As for quoting OAN as news… please… what’s next, Infowars?

  10. Damon

    The protester said he could ‘capture’ police communications, but in reality he was possibly faking it to draw a ‘use of force’ reaction from the police. So he was fibbing a bit.
    If you look at the protestor’s previous social media postings (which he’s recently removed) and previous videos capturing this protestor speaking to surrounding people he bragged about being able to capture communications information from police. It is clear from his partner’s cellphone video (the guy wearing a blue shirt who was part of this staged incident who’s video is most prevalent in the media) that in reality he was simply capturing video with his smartphone. It’s obvious to local law enforcement that this was a setup to provoke a reaction from the police and he was not really ‘scanning’ anything with RF like he claimed he could, but simply capturing video of badges, ID’s, and radio equipment. Some were saying he was using his smartphone for NFC scanning, you can clearly see his smartphone screen from 3 different camera angles that he was capturing video and his NFC UI was not turned on.
    We all know he wasn’t scanning anything and he had no USB cable coming out the bottom of his phone.

  11. Eliot Clemons

    Well, at least we got some air time for a really cool hobby! I’m sure more will want “scanners” and “devices” I like a computer rather than a phone to monitor…and stay in my radio shack.

  12. Markov Chained

    Administrators. Lock these comments and display them as proof of foreign trolling efforts. You will notice them becoming more verbally aggressive now as they are within my IRC channels, a testing ground for their Markov Chain AI models.

    To undue any trolling effort whether automated or not simply reply: “#vote”

  13. Joe

    I think this article doesn’t belong here, because most people who are open to relatively new technologies like most of what is being presented and discussed here are critical thinkers interested in reality to some degree and that doesn’t do with 90% of what the current POTUS says.
    It is like asking in a serious medical forum if it would be helpful to drink bleach or any highly acidic cleaning liquid. The answers may reach from yes, but only once to are you f-ing nuts, but are not supposed to be in there to start with.
    You also can’t drop something that is this ridiculous and have people react without polarisation in any form.
    This will not keep me from making rtl-sdr one of my very favourite pages to look at every day, but I’d be happy to see things within the sane and technical spectrum, which it usually is.

    • admin

      Yeah I was debating posting this. But in the end I decided to as I think it’s important to let people in the community know what is being said in the media about our radio hobbies and jobs. The risk from misinformation getting out of control is SDR being made illegal. Since the RTL-SDR images were shown in the video mentioned by the president and touted as Antifa tools it’s now possible that anyone with an RTL-SDR and mobile in public could potentially be accused of being an ANTIFA provocateur.

      • Damon

        I agree emphatically. We must get ahead of any negative press and protect this hobby that has revolutionized/democratized our ability to learn and grow in the field of RF.

      • Red

        Thank you for posting. I had not seen any of this controversy until now. Need to prepare for technical & political questions to protect SDR (and RF in general) as a hobby.

      • Jeff N.

        Agreed too. These days with all the anti-science rhetoric going around we need to fight to have our scientific and technical hobbies not destroyed in the process.

  14. Endless_Nameless

    So the implication from this story is that because he was reportedly an anarchist and member of some radical groups, thus justifying the assault which has been widely circulated on video?

    That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • Blow me

      One should not walk up to a cop and push them and expect them not to protect themselves from a concealed blade or needle between protesters fingers. I defy you defend yourself otherwise and this article portrays the use of current technology used against public safety protecting all of us.

  15. Retaliate

    He never said an RTL was going to jam anything, he said he was scanning in order to jam. Get it right you a——e and put your real name to such articles if your going to fabricate information.

  16. veselko

    Slovenian student has been almost jailed, because he did more than media told us:
    – he cloned tetra station
    – fake police id
    – researched tetra microlinks
    – even worked for the police few years before – criminals’s mail hacking etc. but probably different interests – police didn’t talk about it at all
    – changed some flows on base stations, so terminals could not register, no authentification
    … … …

    so there was sth. more than just using rtl-sdr and some software, but… the fact is, slovenian police tetra was not set up properly.

  17. Azrial

    Why do you think people give a flip about this? Trump has made no claims to be an SDR Hobbyist! He is correct however in that clown was a part of a setup!

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