Couple charged after brandishing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters

A St Louis couple have been charged after brandishing guns at protesters marching outside their home.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey are accused of unlawful use of a weapon for their actions during a Black Lives Matter protest outside their mansion on 28 June.

Protesters had been marching to the home of the local mayor, a few blocks from the McCloskey’s home.

According to a police report, the couple saw the group break an iron gate with signs that warned against trespassing on the private road. One protester told police that the gate was open, however.

Mr McCloskey came towards the group while holding a semi-automatic rifle and his wife emerged with a semi-automatic handgun.

The personal injury lawyers pointed their weapons at protesters, according to police, although no shots were fired.

Supporters, including US President Donald Trump, insist the couple were legally defending their home.

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However, St Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner told The Associated Press their actions risked turning a peaceful protest into a violent situation.

“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St Louis,” she said.

Joel Schwartz, the couple’s lawyer, said the decision to charge them was “disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed”.

If the McCloskeys are convicted they could be jailed for up to four years, but Ms Gardner is recommending a community service sentence.

Missouri’s Republican governor Mike Parson is among those who have criticised the prosecution, saying in a radio interview on Friday that he would probably pardon the couple if they were convicted.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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