St. Louis couple who pointed gun at protesters saw threat by 'bad actors,' lawyer says; protester says he feared 'blood bath'

St. Louis couple who pointed gun at protesters-Mark and Patricia McCloskey

ST. LOUIS — Personal-injury lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who pointed a rifle and pistol at protesters Sunday night ahead of their Portland Place mansion, said through their lawyer Monday that they felt threatened by two “bad actors” who destroyed an iron gate to their private street and lobbed insults at them.

“My clients, as melanin-deficient citizenry, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter must get out, especially to whites,” said lawyer Albert Watkins. He said the McCloskeys “acted lawfully” out of “fear and apprehension, the genesis of which wasn't race-related.”

A live stream from the protest appeared to contradict that protesters gained access to the road by breaking down the gate, and one protester who witnessed the showdown told the Post-Dispatch that marchers took notice of the McCloskeys only the couple emerged from their home armed and threatening to kill them.
St. Louis couple who pointed gun at protesters-Mark and Patricia McCloskey

“Several people were asking them to place their guns away or to prevent pointing them at us,” said protester James Cooper. “I was afraid (Patricia McCloskey) would fire or accidentally discharge into the gang. I used to be afraid someone among us would legitimately fear for his or her life and react defensively, which could’ve sparked a blood bath.”
The encounter played out as protesters marched through the Central West End toward Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation because she had aired the names and addresses Friday of several protesters calling for the closure of the Medium Security Institution referred to as the workhouse.

In addition to a Post-Dispatch photographer documenting the confrontation, a video of the incident posted to Twitter had been viewed quite 15 million times Monday.

“Private property!” Mark McCloskey shouted repeatedly at the gang, as he held a rifle. “Get out! personal property, get out!” Patricia McCloskey pointed a little handgun.

Someone within the crowd replied, “Calm down.” a lady protester yelled, “Then call the (expletive) cops, you idiot!” and “It’s a public street (expletive).”

To access Portland Place, the gang entered through an iron pedestrian gate. The McCloskeys told police the protesters broke the gate to urge in.

The couple’s renovation of their storied Renaissance palazzo mansion on Portland Place was featured several years ago in St. Louis Magazine. City records show the property is appraised at $1.15 million. The windows at the couple’s firm were boarded up Monday.
St. Louis couple who pointed gun at protesters-Mark and Patricia McCloskey

City police said the couple had involved help once they saw the massive crowd enter Portland Place. The McCloskeys had been received and heard a loud commotion coming from the street; they visited investigate and saw “a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs,” police said.
“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.”

The crowd of protesters eventually moved to Krewson’s home on Lake Avenue a block away.

Police said they're investigating the incident on Portland Place but are labelling it as a case of trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation. A police spokeswoman referred a reporter to “the courts” on whether the couple were within their rights to point guns at protesters.
St. Louis couple who pointed gun at protesters-Mark and Patricia McCloskey

Castle doctrine

Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, said Monday that it had been “very dangerous” for the McCloskeys to interact with protesters by brandishing guns, but Missouri’s Castle Doctrine allows them to defend their property on Portland Place, a personal street.

“At any point that you simply enter the property, they will then, in Missouri, use deadly force to urge you of the lawn,” Walker said, calling the state’s Castle Doctrine a “force field” that “indemnifies you, and you'll even pull the trigger in Missouri.”

Luckily, Walker said, nobody got shot.

“There’s no right to protest on those streets,” Walker said. “The protesters thought that they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they weren't allowed to be there. … It’s essentially a personal estate. If anyone was violating the law, it had been the protesters. In fact, if (the McCloskeys) has photos of the protesters, they might follow them for trespassing.”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner released a press release Monday saying she’s “alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend where peaceful protestors (sic) were met by guns and a violent assault.”

Gardner said her office is investigating the incident on Portland Place also as an assault among protesters Saturday afternoon at the King Louis IX statue atop Art Hill in Forest Park.

“We must protect the proper to peacefully protest, and any plan to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force won't be tolerated,” Gardner said. “Make no mistake: we'll not tolerate the utilization of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and can use the complete power of Missouri law to carry people accountable.”

On Monday, Rep. Steven Roberts, a St. Louis Democrat running for a state Senate seat, said his campaign won’t keep a $250 contribution he received last year from Mark McCloskey. He said he would donate it to Moms Demand Action, a gaggle that pushes for stricter gun laws.
Campaign finance reports say Mark McCloskey has supported other Democratic candidates including a $3,250 donation to Russ Carnahan in 2016 when the previous U.S. representative ran for an elected official. McCloskey also supported Donald Trump’s election in 2016, consistent with Federal committee records.

Sunday’s protest culminated at Krewson’s house. Her spokesman didn't reply to a reporter asking if Krewson was reception Sunday night.

At least 500 people demonstrated, chanting “Resign Lyda, take the cops with you.” They were upset that the mayor had released on a Facebook Live briefing the names and addresses of several residents who suggested defunding the local department. The video has been removed, and Krewson has apologized, saying she “did not shall cause distress or harm to anyone.”

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