St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s Office has filed felony charges today against a couple who pointed guns at protesters walking by their Central West End mansion last month. Mark and Patricia McCloskey have each been charged with a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon — exhibiting.
“It is 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,” Gardner says in a statement today.
She says her office would be open to ending the case if the McCloskeys successfully complete community service through a diversion program.
“We must protect the right to peacefully protest and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated,” says Gardner, a Democrat.
The McCloskeys, who are personal injury lawyers, have made worldwide news after photos and video captured them outside their St. Louis home waving guns at protesters walking by. The couple accused demonstrators of knocking down an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs. Video shows Mark McCloskey wielding a rifle yelling that protesters were on private property. McCloskey says he and his wife were “socially intimidated” and “terrorized” by some of the individuals and he feared for his life when they came onto his property.
Politicians from Missouri and beyond have spoken up about the incident. In an interview last Friday on the Marc Cox Morning Show in St. Louis, Gov. Mike Parson was asked if he would consider a pardon.
“I think that’s exactly what would happen,” Parson said.
During a press conference earlier last week, Parson stood up for the McCloskeys.
“They have the ability to do that as private citizens like everyone else,” said Parson. “But what they should not go through is a prosecutor attempting to take their Constitutional rights away by filing charges against them for protecting their property.”
He said President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr are reviewing the event.
“He understands the situation in St. Louis and how out of control it is for a prosecutor to let violent criminals off and not do their job and try to attack law-abiding citizens,” said Parson. “The conversation I had with the president said that he would do everything he could within his powers to help with this situation and that he would be taking action.”
Parson, a Republican, also suggested Gardner should be removed from office.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, wants a federal investigation launched in the case and has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr accusing Gardner of abusing her power.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, has filed a request to have the case against the McCloskey’s dismissed.
Citizens shouldn’t be targeted for exercising their #2A right to self-defense
STL prosecutor Kim Gardner is engaged in a political prosecution
As AG I’m entering the case seeking a dismissal & defend all Missourians’ right to protect their lives/property pic.twitter.com/kQLXOAhFIz
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 20, 2020
Missourinet has contacted their attorney seeking comment.
Online court records say they are both scheduled to appear in court on August 31.
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