St. Louis police have cited nine protesters for alleged trespassing in connection with a June Black Lives Matter march during which a St. Louis couple brandished guns to defend their property.
During the June 28 incident, about 300 protesters entered a private, gated street.
As the demonstrators marched outside the home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple came out to tell the protesters to back off.
Mark McCloskey, 63, carried an AR-15 rifle, while Patricia McCloskey, 61, held a handgun. No shots were fired.
— Daniel Shular (@xshularx) June 29, 2020
Sr. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, has charged both McCloskeys with felony unlawful use of a weapon. Protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor,” a police probable cause statement said, The Associated Press reported.
Police confirmed nine citations were issued in relation to the alleged trespassing, but said they could not provide names while an investigation is ongoing.
“The police department investigated nine instances of trespassing related to this incident,” St. Louis police spokeswoman Evita Caldwell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday. “Charges are being reviewed by the City Counselor’s Office.”
Deputy City Counselor Mike Garvin added Friday that “police have presented materials to us and we are considering whether to issue charges on the citations.” His office will examine video from the protest “to see where the accused trespassers were at the time,” Garvin said.
City Counselor Julian Bush said it will take about two weeks for the office to decide whether or not to drop the matter.
“We have to assess whether or not it’s likely that a conviction could be obtained. If there’s no probable cause or it’s not in the broader interest,” he told NPR. A decision will then be made regarding whether or not to pursue charges.
Conviction on a trespassing charge could mean a fine of up to $500 and the potential of 90 days in jail — a penalty Bush said is rarely used.
Protest leader Rev. Darryl Gray said citing protesters for alleged trespassing is nothing short of intimidation.
“We’re not going to be threatened, and that’s what’s happening across this country,” Gray, who was not cited, told the AP. “You’ve got local governments and states who are trying to charge protesters, financially charge them, wanting them to pay costs. You’ve got others who want to make it a law against exercising our First Amendment right.”
One activist objected to the citation she was issued:
Whew for the folks that cant comprehend, this isnt an admittance to trespassing or validating the McCloskey’s story. It’s a comparison of walking down a street vs. threatening folks with a deadly weapon and policing. Police didn’t send the McCloskey’s citations but sent us them.
— Ohun Ashe ??? (@Ohun_Ashe) September 12, 2020
“I was just sent a summons to appear in court for ‘trespassing on private property’ on Portland Pl aka the street Patricia and Mark McCloskey live on,” Ohun Ashe tweeted. “I had a gun waved in my face by them but trespassing is what matters?”
Others fired back, saying protesters were in the wrong.
You trespassed. It was threatening. They carried weapons for the purpose of self defense. You went to them. They didn’t seek you out. You started this. I’m glad you’ve been summoned. Stay off of private streets. ?
— Average Mom ??? (@AverageMomof3) September 12, 2020
This is what happens when you knowingly break the law.
It is called ‘rule of law’.
— Paula Cochran (@PHCSeabird) September 12, 2020
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