Posted on August 18, 2020

St. Louis Couple Who Pointed Guns at Protesters to Speak at Republican Convention

Martin Pengelly, The Guardian, August 18, 2020


{snip} As the Democratic convention proceeds with calls for an end to racial divides, news of another Republican convention speech by a couple who became infamous for taking a stand outside another grand house may attract further debate.

In a racially charged incident in late June, Patricia and Mark McCloskey, who are white, were pictured outside their mansion in St Louis, pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters heading for the mayor’s house nearby.

Mark McCloskey held an assault rifle, Patricia McCloskey a handgun. The couple, both lawyers, said they feared for their own safety and were defending their home.

“I didn’t care what color they were,” Mark McCloskey told CNN, of the protesters. “I didn’t care what their motivation was. I was frightened. I was assaulted.”

Charged with unlawful use of a weapon, the McCloskeys duly became a cause célèbre on the political right. Donald Trump tweeted support; Mike Parson, the Republican governor of Missouri, called the charge “outrageous”; and senior figures including Missouri senator Josh Hawley demanded a civil rights investigation.

The prosecutor in the case, Kim Gardner, is the first African American circuit attorney in St Louis history. Speaking to the Washington Post, she said she received death threats.

“This is a modern-day night ride, and everybody knows it,” Gardner said, referring to Ku Klux Klan tactics of the 19th and early 20th centuries. “And for a president to participate in it … is scary.”

The Post first reported that the McCloskeys will speak to Republicans as they gather, like Democrats largely online thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, to re-nominate Trump for president.

The hard-right Breitbart News website reported that Nick Sandmann, a student who sued media outlets after footage of a confrontation with a Native American activist went viral, and Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the Parkland school shooting, will also address the convention.

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, who recently gave Trump a model of Mount Rushmore with his head added next to those of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, will speak too.

So will Nikki Haley – an Indian American former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations who many expect to run for the nomination in 2024 – and Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate.

Vice-president Mike Pence will speak from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a patriotic site celebrated in the US national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

Trump’s decision to speak from the White House has attracted controversy. As the US Office of Special Counsel said this month, the president is not subject to the Hatch Act, which limits political activities while on federal duty. But his staff is not.