Posted on July 21, 2020

White St. Louis Couple Who Pointed Guns at Protesters to Face Charges

Lois Beckett, The Guardian, July 20, 2020

A white couple who pointed guns at protesters marching against racial injustice outside their mansion will face criminal charges, the city’s top prosecutor announced on Monday.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, both personal injury attorneys in their 60s, will be charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon and a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault.

“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St Louis,” the circuit attorney Kim Gardner told the Associated Press on Monday, arguing that the couple’s actions risked creating a violent situation during an otherwise non-violent protest.

“We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated,” Gardner said in a statement.

While the prosecutor who announced the charges against the McCloskeys said she was “open to recommending” that the McCloskeys participate in a diversion program designed “to reduce unnecessary involvement with the courts”, the case is likely to fuel continued partisan debate over gun rights and racial violence. Supporters of the McCloskeys said they were legally defending their $1.15m home.

An attorney for the couple, Joel Schwartz, in a statement called the decision to charge “disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed”.


The McCloskeys live on a private street called Portland Place. A police report said the couple heard a loud commotion and saw a large group of people break an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs. A protest leader, the Rev Darryl Gray, said the gate was open and that protesters didn’t damage it.


The city’s top prosecutor, who is black, made a different announcement, saying she was “alarmed” to see an incident “where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault”, and that her office was also investigating.

“Make no mistake: we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their first amendment rights,” Gardner wrote.

Gardner, the first African American circuit attorney in St Louis’s history, was elected in 2016 as one of the country’s new wave of progressive prosecutors, who aimed to reduce mass incarceration and address the stark racial disparities within America’s criminal justice system. {snip}