Missouri governor says he’d pardon St. Louis couple if they are charged for brandishing guns at protesters
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) suggested on Friday that he was prepared to pardon a St. Louis couple if charges were filed against them for brandishing firearms at a group of protesters outside their home.
Speaking on “The Marc Cox Morning Show” on 97.1 FM in St. Louis, Parson was asked about an investigation circuit attorney Kim Gardner launched into Mark and Patricia McCloskey. The two were seen in widely shared footage from June pointing guns at a group of protesters who were walking down their street as part of a demonstration.
The McCloskeys claimed in a police report that they felt threatened by the demonstrators and feared that they would assault them or destroy their property. But Gardner said that she would look into the events, noting at the outset of her probe that “we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Parson strongly pushed back against the impetus for the investigation, saying that the McCloskeys “did what they legally should do.”
“A mob does not have the right to charge your property. They had every right to protect themselves,” he said.
Asked whether he would consider a pardon if charges were filed, Parsons said, “I think that’s exactly what would happen.”
“Right now, that’s what I feel,” he said. “You don’t know until you hear all the facts. But right now, if this is all about going after them for doing a lawful act, then yeah, if that scenario ever happened, I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail.”
“We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights,” Parson added in a tweet linking to his comments.
The McCloskeys first gained widespread attention in late June after video captured the two pointing firearms at protesters who had been marching past their residence on the way to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) to demand she resign after she read aloud activists’ personal information on a livestream.
The couple told St. Louis police that the protesters trespassed on a private street and that they were “in fear for [their] lives.” A protest leader has disputed their claims, saying that the gate to the street was open and that demonstrators were peaceful.
Gardner’s investigation of the events has attracted intense criticism from Republican officials, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and President Trump. In an interview last week, Trump claimed that the investigation was a “disgrace” and that the couple had the right to protect their property. Parsons has also noted that he’s discussed the matter with Trump and ways the president could potentially intervene.
In addition, Hawley called on the Justice Department to launch a civil rights probe into Gardner’s office to determine whether her investigation of the McCloskeys violates their “constitutional right.”
Gardner has dismissed the criticism she’s received from Trump and Parsons. She said in a statement on Thursday that “while they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so.”