A St Louis couple who stood in front of their palatial mansion on June 28 waving their guns as Black Lives Matter protesters walked by have been charged with a single count each of unlawful use of a weapon – exhibiting, the St Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey called police and told them that an armed mob destroyed a gate into the private Portland Place area and shouted obscenities and threats at the couple, prompting them to get their weapons and stand in front of the Carthage marble facing of their home, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Joel Schwartz, an attorney for the McCloskeys — who are attorneys themselves — said the charges were “disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.” But St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said that it’s “illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis.”
Protesters, who were walking toward the home of St Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house, say they came through an unlocked gate into Portland Place and were in the street only and not on the McCloskeys property. A video of from the night shows the gate open and protesters passing through, although at some point the gate was damaged, the Post-Dispatch said. Video does not show protesters on the couple’s property or on a disputed patch of grass they claim as their own but is supposed to be common property of Portland Place. Mark McCloskey said in a deposition that he once held a gun on a neighbor who walked on the patch, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The Post-Dispatch said prosecutors relied on “numerous” witness statements, videos, and the McCloskeys’ own statements to decide to charge them.
It’s not clear how far the charges will go, however. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Friday that “by all means” he would pardon the couple should they be charged. And U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley said last week that he has requested that the Department of Justice investigate Gardner’s office for a civil rights violation, saying her investigation was an “abuse of power.” He also complained that protesters, who were not on the McCloskeys’ property, were not charged with trespassing.
And late Monday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a brief to dismiss the charges, claiming the McCloskeys’ Second Amendment rights were being violated, Fox News reported.
Gardner said she would be happy to resolve the charges with a diversion program that would prevent a conviction for the McCloskeys.
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[Feature Photo: Screenshot via Twitter/Daniel Schular]