Missouri’s top elected officials have come out swinging against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who on Monday announced charges against a couple who brandished firearms defending their home from trespassing political activists in June.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey were catapulted to fame when images of them holding firearms to defend their property were widely shared online and by the media.
Gardner, who is a Democrat, quickly announced she had opened an investigation into the couple.
The McCloskeys were both charged Monday by Gardner’s office for felony unlawful use of a weapon after the June 28 incident.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, though, quickly announced he was getting involved in the case, which he called a “political prosecution.”
The state’s AG also called Gardner’s decision to seek charges an affront to the Second Amendment and is looking to have the charges dismissed.
“Citizens shouldn’t be targeted for exercising their #2A right to self-defense,” he wrote on Twitter. “STL prosecutor Kim Gardner is engaged in a political prosecution.
“As AG I’m entering the case seeking a dismissal & defend all Missourians’ right to protect their lives/property.”
Citizens shouldn’t be targeted for exercising their #2A right to self-defense
STL prosecutor Kim Gardner is engaged in a political prosecution
As AG I’m entering the case seeking a dismissal & defend all Missourians’ right to protect their lives/property pic.twitter.com/kQLXOAhFIz
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 20, 2020
Schmitt filed a brief seeking to dismiss charges on the grounds that the Second Amendment rights of the McCloskeys were being violated.
“The right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in our constitution and our laws, including the Castle Doctrine, which provides broad rights to Missourians who are protecting their property and lives from those who wish to do them harm,” Schmitt said in a statement to Fox News.
“Despite this, Circuit Attorney Gardner filed suit against the McCloskeys, who, according to published reports, were defending their property and safety. As Missouri’s Chief law enforcement officer, I won’t stand by while Missouri law is being ignored,” Schmitt added.
— Daniel Shular (@xshularx) June 29, 2020
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also criticized the charges against the McCloskeys, alleging that Gardner’s decision was politically motivated.
“Kim Gardner’s action toward the McCloskeys is outrageous. Even worse, the Circuit Attorney’s office has admitted there is a backlog of cases and dozens of homicides that haven’t been prosecuted, yet she has accelerated this case forward,” he wrote.
“We must prioritize laws that keep our citizens safe over political motivations. Kim Gardner owes every single family who has had a loved one murdered an explanation on why she has acted on the McCloskey case instead of theirs,” the Republican governor added.
We must prioritize laws that keep our citizens safe over political motivations. Kim Gardner owes every single family who has had a loved one murdered an explanation on why she has acted on the McCloskey case instead of theirs.
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) July 20, 2020
“Her inaction is not fostering an environment of safety for the many communities and neighborhoods in St. Louis she serves.”
Her inaction is not fostering an environment of safety for the many communities and neighborhoods in St. Louis she serves.
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) July 20, 2020
Parson is considering a pardon for the couple.
Gardner said in a statement she filed charges in order to protect the rights of people to peacefully “protest.”
1/ Statement from Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner – Today my office filed charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey following an incident involving peaceful, unarmed protesters on June 28th. Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/zPucQ3MHs5
— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) July 20, 2020
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” she said in the statement.
“We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated.”
The McCloskeys, who are both attorneys, have maintained that they feared for their lives after a group protesting against perceived racial injustice destroyed the gate to the private neighborhood they share with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson before marching down their street and threatening them with violence.
Parson signaled last week that President Donald Trump might intervene on behalf of the McCloskeys.
“He understands the situation in Missouri. He understands the situation in St. Louis, and how out of control it is for a prosecutor to let violent criminals off, and not do their job, and attack law-abiding citizens,” the governor told KTVI-TV last week.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley last week also urged Trump and the Justice Department to launch a federal civil rights investigation into Gardner for alleged abuse of power.
In a letter to AG Barr, Senator Hawley calls for a federal civil rights investigation into St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s targeting of the McCloskey family for using firearms to defend themselves & their property against a mob of protestors https://t.co/CCmyq8J72s pic.twitter.com/1o3QAYyzaF
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) July 16, 2020
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