A white couple who stood outside their St. Louis mansion and pointed guns at protestors support the Black Lives Matter movement and don't want to become heroes to those who oppose the cause, their attorney said today.
Video posted online showed Mark McCloskey, 63, and his 61-year-old wife, Patricia, standing outside their Renaissance palazzo-style home in the city’s well-to-do Central West End neighbourhood as protestors marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation. He could be heard yelling while holding a long-barrelled gun. His wife stood next to him with a handgun.
Mark McCloskey told KMOV-TV that he and wife, who are personal injury lawyers, were facing an “angry mob” on their private street and feared for their lives last night.
No charges were brought against the McCloskeys. Police said they were still investigating but labelled it a case of trespassing and assault by intimidation against the couple by protestors in the racially diverse crowd.
However, Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner issued a statement later today characterising what happened differently and saying her office was working with police to investigate the confrontation.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns and a violent assault,” she said. “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.”
Their attorney, Albert Watkins, told The Associated Press today that the couple are long-time civil rights advocates and support the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. He said they grabbed their guns when two or three protestors — who were white — violently threatened the couple and their property and that of their neighbours.
“The most important thing for them is that their images (holding the guns) don't become the basis for a rallying cry for people who oppose the Black Lives Matter message," Watkins said. "They want to make it really clear that they believe the Black Lives Matter message is important.”
The marchers were angry at Mayor Lyda Krewson for reading aloud the names and addresses of several residents who wrote letters calling for defunding the police department. The group of at least 500 people chanted, “Resign, Lyda! Take the cops with you!” news outlets reported.
Police said the couple had heard a loud commotion in the street and saw a large group of people break an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs. The video showed the protesters walking through the gate and it was unclear when it was damaged.
The McCloskeys' home, which was featured in the local St. Louis Magazine after undergoing a renovation, was appraised at US$1.15 million (NZ$1.79 million).
President Donald Trump retweeted an ABC News account of the confrontation without comment.