St. Louis circuit attorney investigating couple that pointed guns at protesters

The St. Louis city prosecutor is investigating a married couple who brandished weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters on Sunday as they marched toward Mayor Lyda Krewson's (D) house.

"I am alarmed at the events that happened over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns and a violent assault. 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," Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a statement Monday.

She added: "My office is currently working with the public and the police to investigate these events. Make no mistake: We will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable."

ADVERTISEMENT

The incident took place Sunday night in the affluent Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis.

Protesters were marching to Krewson's house to call for her resignation because of comments she made during a livestreamed briefing she gave Friday. During her remarks, Krewson, 66, revealed the names and addresses of activists who wrote her demanding sweeping policy reform. This prompted widespread ire and calls for her Krewson's resignation.

Krewson lives in one of the neighborhood's gated communities. The couple who brandished the weapons, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, told the police that they heard a commotion and saw “a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs."

ADVERTISEMENT

“The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims,” St. Louis police told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”

The McCloskeys, both personal-injury attorneys, live in a mansion that has been valued at more than $1 million. Albert Watkins, the couple's counsel, told the paper that McCloskeys felt threatened by a pair of "bad actors" who started to insult them, adding that they "acted lawfully" by brandishing weapons on the protesters.

Video of the incident has been viewed millions of times on social media.

Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, told the Post-Dispatch that Missouri's Castle Doctrine makes what the McCloskeys did legal, albeit dangerous.

Missouri's Castle Doctrine allows residents to use lethal force to get people off of private property.

"There's no right to protest on those streets," Walker explained. "The protesters thought they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they were not allowed to be there."

He added: "It’s essentially a private estate. If anyone was violating the law, it was the protesters. In fact, if [the McCloskeys] have photos of the protesters, they could go after them for trespassing."