ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis’ top prosecutor on Monday charged a white husband and wife with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns during a racial injustice protest outside their mansion.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are both personal injury attorneys in their 60s. Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told The Associated Press that their actions risked creating a violent situation during an otherwise nonviolent protest last month.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner — that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,” Gardner said.
Joel Schwartz, an attorney for the couple, in a statement called the decision to charge “disheartening, as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.”
Supporters of the McCloskeys said they were legally defending their $1.15 million home.
Gardner is recommending a diversion program, such as community service, rather than jail time if the McCloskeys are convicted. Typically, class E felonies could result in up to four years in prison.
Several Republican leaders have condemned Gardner’s investigation, including President Trump, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Sen. Josh Hawley, who has urged Attorney General William Barr to undertake a civil rights investigation of Gardner. Parson said in a radio interview Friday that he would likely pardon the couple if they were charged and convicted.
Gardner said Trump, Parson and others are attacking her to distract from “their failed approach to the COVID-19 pandemic” and other issues.
St. Louis, like many cities across the country, has seen demonstrations in the weeks since George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and the McCloskeys’ home was initially incidental to the demonstration June 28. Several hundred people were marching to the home of Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson, a few blocks from the McCloskeys’ home. Krewson had angered activists by reading on Facebook Live the names and addresses of some who had called for defunding police.