A group of protesters who busted into a private community looking to confront the mayor of St. Louis actually ran into a bigger controversy when they were greeted by armed homeowners.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the protesters were after Mayor Lyda Krewson after she read off the names and addresses of individuals who had written her letters asking her to defund the police on Facebook Live. Addresses in letters to elected officials are a matter of public record and releasing them was legal, although they’re normally only given out after a formal request.
The mayor apologized Friday, saying she “did not intend to cause distress or harm to anyone.” That didn’t matter, and on Sunday night, a protest crowd came for her demanding her resignation.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the armed couple, saw “a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs,” according to police. (It’s worth noting that protesters have denied that they damaged the gate, Moreover, video footage from one point in the incident “shows a man holding open the left side of the gate while the right door is fully intact and upright,” according to KSDK-TV, though this does not prove the gate was never damaged by the protesters at all.)
They started marching on private Portland Place in the pricey community, chanting “Let’s go!” The Post-Dispatch estimated the number of protesters to be in the hundreds.
As the protesters approached the property, this is what happened:
— ABC News (@ABC) June 29, 2020
The McCloskeys, both lawyers with The McCloskey Law Center, stood on their property and implored the crowd to move along — Mark McCloskey with a rifle and Patricia with a handgun.
“Private property!” Mark yelled repeatedly.
“Get out! Private property, get out!”
The protesters yelled back, one telling them to calm down.
Another protester: “Then call the [expletive] cops, you idiot!” (They had.) Another: “It’s a public street [expletive].” (It wasn’t.)
The protesters didn’t target the McCloskeys’ house and instead moved on to Krewson’s.
Police said the couple called them after they saw the crowd pour in from the gate they’d busted open.
“The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims,” police said.
“When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
Police say they’re currently investigating the case as trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation. As for whether the McCloskeys broke the law, a spokesperson with the St. Louis police said that was a case for “the courts.”
As for the video, it was retweeted by President Donald Trump and viewed over 10 million times on Twitter.
And, believe it or not, it was a protester who said they were the ones who felt unsafe.
Rodney Brown said that he felt “extremely fearful because we should be able to write to our public officials, and the fact that she doesn’t feel she has to be accountable or protect us … it’s a very violent gesture.”
Krewson’s decision to read off names and addresses probably wasn’t the best idea — although it wasn’t doxing as some media outlets called it, given that the names and addresses of individuals who write elected officials are a matter of public record.
Then again, trespassing in a gated community as part of a minatory protest isn’t a particularly good idea, either. However, it’s worth noting that while this couple had the right to defend their property — and every reason to believe it was potentially under threat — this looks, at first glance, like a masterclass in poor firearm discipline.
Neither of the McCloskeys seems to be particularly cognizant of where they’re pointing their guns, it seems. If they think they had problems when they called police, they ought to have considered the fact those problems would increase by an order of magnitude the moment a bullet went off, and another order of magnitude if it hit someone.
Remember, the right to bear arms comes with the responsibility to bear them safely.
This won’t be the last we hear about this case, we figure — but while the protesters have some questions to answer, so do the McCloskeys, as well.
UPDATE, June 21, 2021: This post has been updated to note that whether or not protesters physically damaged the iron gate has not been determined.
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