Felony Charges Filed Against St. Louis Couple Who Aimed Guns At Peaceful Protesters
Update July 24: The gun-wielding couple in St. Louis is facing felony charges for their actions against peaceful protesters. The couple could face four years in prison for the unlawful use of a weapon against the protesters.
St. Louis city prosecutor Kim Gardner has filed felony charges against the McCloskeys.
The attorneys were photographed aiming a handgun and a rifle at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters. The moment made national headlines because of the jarring image of two white people aiming weapons at people of color, who were not on their property.
“The decision to issue charges was made after a thorough investigation with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” Gardner said in a statement. “I am open to recommending the McCloskeys participate in one of my office’s diversion programs that are designed to reduce unnecessary involvement with the courts. I believe this would serve as a fair resolution to this matter. We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated.”
Republicans have attacked Gardner for filing the charges but she isn’t backing down. In the face of the harassment, 67 former and current prosecutors signed a letter defending her and her decision to file the felony charges.
Update: A Change.Org petition is asking for the McCloskeys to be disbarred after pointing guns at protesters. The scene from a BLM protest has become a visual representation of the racial tensions in the U.S. as the white couple aimed weapons at people of color peacefully protesting.
The McCloskeys neighbors have released an open letter denouncing them and their actions.
“Some of us choose to speak up following horrific events that transpired on Sunday evening near our homes,” reads the letter denouncing the horrific actions of the couple. “As the undersigned, we condemn the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest, whether it be in this neighborhood or anywhere in the United States.”
There is also a growing petition to have the two disbarred.
A quick online search shows that the McCloskeys have taken down their law firm’s website. It hasn’t made people forget that they are attorneys and broke Missouri law when aiming the firearms are protesters.
“The look in her eyes speaks volumes,” reads the Change.Org petition. “They need to be held accountable. Brandishing a weapon with intent (as clearly displayed in this photo) is a criminal offense when you are not in direct danger.”
Updated June 30, 2020.
Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner confirmed earlier this week that her office is collaborating with the police to investigate recent incident which saw a white couple waving guns at protestors over the weekend.
The middle-aged white couple became the fun, new, and trending Twitter hashtag on Sunday after they had been spotted wielding guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis. Soon after the images of them began circulating Twitter dubbed them “Ken and Karen” and the stars of the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” remake no one asked for. The incident occurred as protesters marched their way towards the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The protesters demanded her resignation after she went public with the names and addresses of activists in a Facebook Live video on Friday.
Video of the incident, which took place on Sunday, shows the couple waving their guns outside their mansion.
The couple in the video, who appears to be dressed in their very bland versions of their Sunday best’s: a pink polo and khaki pants paired with an assault rifle for him and a striped T-shirt and capris with a handgun for her, have been identified by police as Mark McCloskey, 63 years old, and Patricia McCloskey, 61 years-old.
The pair can be seen screaming and shouting at protesters while pointing their guns at them. According to reports, the woman can be seen holding her finger on the trigger.
BuzzFeed reports that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department identified the couple as victims in their police report. The statement asserts that the couple contacted police “when they heard a loud commotion coming from the street” and “observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.”
In the report made to the police, the couple claimed protesters were “yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims” and that they took out their guns once they saw “multiple subjects who were armed.” Police did not say confirm the couple’s claim or indicate that there was evidence to prove protesters threatened or aimed guns at the couple.
The incident is a reminder of Missouri’s loose gun laws that permit the carrying of concealed weapons without background checks or permits.
The protests sparked after Krewson appeared in a now-deleted Facebook Live video on Friday.
In the video Krewson declared that she would not support = rising calls to defund the police. She also reportedly shared activists’ full names and addresses while reading off suggestions on how to better spend the city’s funds. After users ridiculed her online, Krewson apologized for her actions saying “Never did I intend to harm anyone or cause distress,” Krewson tweeted. “The update is removed and again, I apologize.”
In response to her decision to out activist and put them in harm’s way, local leaders and organizations called for her to resign. Over 45,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding her resignation condemning her as “a risk for the safety and well being of the general St. Louis population.”
In a statement about the incident, Gardner asserted the right to peacefully protest.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” Gardner said in a statement. “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”
Albert Watkins, the McCloskeys’ attorney, told USA TODAY in an interview that the circuit attorney is not “possessed of the legal wherewithal to understand some of these fundamental tenets.” He went onto lambast the notion that his clients acted unlawfully calling the suggestion “one which would demonstrate unequivocally the wholesale absence of appreciation for longstanding law in the state of Missouri.”
In an odd twist, Watkins has also asserted that the McCloskeys are actually lawyers who have worked on civil rights cases and are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. Speaking about their actions on Sunday, Watkins said that their decision to bring out their guns was sparked by “abject fear of imminent harm” but they were not race-related.