ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is now investigating a husband and wife who were seen in photos pointing guns at protesters outside their home in the Central West End on Sunday night.
It happened on Portland Place, which is clearly marked as a private street.
All of the property in the neighborhood of stately homes is private, including the streets and sidewalks, according to Al Watkins, the couple’s attorney.
Protesters were headed to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home around 7:20 p.m. on a nearby private street.
Protesters alleged ripped through a locked gate to enter Portland Place, police said.
The gate is damaged and now held up with chains.
On Monday, Watkins identified his clients as Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are also attorneys.
In the statement, Watkins said the McCloskeys wanted to “set the record straight” about the protest and the actions of a few individuals who chose to exploit the otherwise peaceful protest to place the couple in fear of “imminent harm.”
They are properly trained with the weapons you see in the photos, Watkins said.
The McCloskeys support Black Lives Matter, Watkins said, pointing out that their client base largely consists of persons of color in personal injury and civil rights cases.
Watkins went on to explain that peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the couple, and the McCloskeys were expecting and supportive of the message of the protesters.
“Their actions were borne solely of fear and apprehension, the genesis of which was not race-related. In fact, the agitators responsible for the trepidation were white,” Watkins said.
Two white males among the more than 500 protesters threatened the couple, Watkins said.
The McCloskeys responded by calling the police, going into their restored mansion, getting their firearms, and protecting themselves along with their property, Watkins said.
“There were two individuals that stuck out like sore thumbs because they were violent. They ripped a 100-year-old wrought iron gate and bent it. They did so in a fashion that was accompanied by derisive commentary,” Watkins said.
“Bad things were said. They weren’t the message of Black Lives Matter. They were threats. They were hostile…my clients weren’t there with guns. (Mark McCloskey) went in and got his guns…these two people have spent a career serving and addressing the civil rights needs of people of color. (They) were not frightened of peaceful protesters.”
No charges have been brought against the couple. However, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident as a trespassing and assault 4th/ intimidation case against the unknown people in the crowd.
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner released the following statement:
I am alarmed at the events that occurred 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. My office is currently working with the public and 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.
The couple was not guilty of any crime and had been receiving threats, Watkins said.
Watkins also said in the statement that the McCloskeys have worked over the years to protect the civil rights of clients “victimized at the hands of law enforcement.” He pointed to the couple’s involvement with the Isaiah Forman case.
“The McCloskeys want to make sure no one thinks less of BLM, its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest,” said Watkins.
The couple’s law office has since been boarded up.