Around 500 people marched on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, in protest of the city’s mayor. An assault investigation is now underway after a homeowner said he was threatened by the group, who allegedly trampled all over private property.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey stood in front of their home with guns while protesters marched toward Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house. The protest occurred after the mayor reportedly released the names and addresses of people pushing to defund the police department.
According to several videos taking by local reporters, as well as onlookers, the couple stood in front of a lavish mansion in a Central West End neighborhood and screamed at what appeared to be peaceful protesters. NBC 5 reports that the McCloskeys are the owners of the law firm, McCloskey Law.
Mark McCloskey spoke to CBS 5 in St. Louis on Monday and explained his side of the incident, asserting that the crowd was anything but peaceful.
“A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear of our lives,” McCloskey told the outlet.
“This is all private property. There are no public sidewalks or public streets. We were told that we would be killed, our home burned and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob.”
McCloskey said he spotted people in the crowd with the guns. He said that’s when they decided to get his own gun.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that authorities confirmed Monday that they are now investigating to see whether protesters committed assault by intimidation and trespassing.
“The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims,” police said. “When the victims [the McCloskeys] observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
The McCloskey’s attorney, Albert S. Watkins, shared a photo of a damaged gate. The lawyer claimed the protesters broke the gate down to gain entry into the private neighborhood. He added that his clients are supportive of peaceful protesters but “acted lawfully” to protect themselves against people in the group accused of threatening them.
Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, told the Post-Dispatch that under Missouri’s “Castle Doctrine,” homeowners can use deadly force to remove unwanted people from their property, including the lawn.
“At any point that you enter the property, they can then, in Missouri, use deadly force to get you off the lawn.” -Anders Walker
“There’s no right to protest on those streets,” Walker said. “The protesters thought they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they were not allowed to be there. … It’s essentially a private estate. If anyone was violating the law, it was the protesters. In fact, if [the McCloskeys] have photos of the protesters, they could go after them for trespassing.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said that she’s alarmed that “peaceful protesters” were met with firearms.
“Make no mistake: we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable,” Gardner said.
Protester Maxi Glamour told 11Alive News that he didn’t see anyone break down a gate and that a peaceful protest was the aim of the incident.
“I didn’t see anything violent. I didn’t see anything wild from my perspective. I did see somebody open the door, and they walk into a gated community. I didn’t see anything broken or property being damaged,” Maxi Glamour said.
Protest organizers echoed Glamour’s response and said there was no reason for the McCloskeys to walk outside with guns.
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[Feature Photo: Screenshot via Twitter/Daniel Schular]