Couple draw guns at crowd heading to St. Louis mayor’s home

ST. LOUIS (AP) – A white couple standing outside their St. Louis mansion pointing guns at protesters support the Black Lives Matter movement and don’t want to become heroes for those who oppose, their lawyer said on Monday.

The 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 affluent Central West End on Sunday evening as protesters marched to the mayor’s house demanding their resignation . He could be heard screaming while holding a long-barreled weapon. His wife was standing next to him with a gun.

Mark McCloskey told KMOV-TV that he and his wife, who are personal injury attorneys, faced an “angry mob” on their private street and feared for their lives on Sunday night.

No charges were brought against McCloskeys. Police said they are still investigating but identified it as a case of trespassing and assault by intimidating the couple by protesters in the racially diverse crowd.

However, prosecutor Kimberly Gardner issued a statement later Monday describing what happened differently and saying her office was working with police to investigate the confrontation.

“I am alarmed by the events over the weekend where peaceful demonstrators were hit by guns and a violent attack,” she said. “We must protect the right to peaceful protest, and any attempt to cool it down through intimidation or threats of deadly violence will not be tolerated.”

Their attorney, Albert Watkins, told The Associated Press Monday that the couple have been long-time civil rights activists and support the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. He said they packed their guns when two or three protesters – who were white – violently threatened the couple and their property and that of their neighbors.

“The most important thing to them is that their pictures (with the guns) don’t become the basis of a rally for people who defy the Black Lives Matter’s message,” Watkins said. “They really want to make it clear that they think Black Lives Matter’s message is important.”

The protesters were angry at Mayor Lyda Krewson for reading out the names and addresses of several residents who wrote letters demanding relief from the police. The group of at least 500 people sang: “Resign, Lyda! Take the cops with you! “News agencies reported.

Police said the couple heard a loud commotion in the street and saw a large group of people break through 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, featured in the local St. Louis Magazine after a renovation, was valued at $ 1.15 million.

President Donald Trump retweeted an ABC News report about the confrontation without comment.

Krewson has been calling for her resignation since a Facebook Live briefing Friday when the white mayor read the names of those who wrote letters about wanting to disappoint the police. The video was removed and Krewson apologized the same day, saying she had no intention of causing any distress.

Rev. Darryl Gray, an ExpectUs organizer who used a megaphone to urge protesters to keep moving after the couple brandished firearms, accused Krewson of “throwing gasoline on an already-burning fire” by using the home addresses of the People published.

“In this climate of hatred and climate of activists’ fear and concern for safety, we didn’t feel that this was the most prudent thing to do at this particular time,” Gray said. “It’s a sign that she just doesn’t know or doesn’t care.”

The names and letters are considered public records, but Krewson’s actions caused a violent backlash.

“As a leader, you don’t do that. … It is only right that we visit her at her house, “said Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, a Democrat from St. Louis, speaking into a megaphone during the march.

Protesters across the country have urged law enforcement to “disappoint” police over the deaths of George Floyd and other blacks. Floyd, handcuffed, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes.

Krewson, a longtime alder woman, was elected St. Louis’ first mayor in 2017 by pledging to work to reduce crime and improve poor neighborhoods. She and her two young children were in the car outside their house in 1995 when their husband Jeff was killed in a carjacking attempt.

In recent years, the number of murders has increased in St. Louis, one of the most violent cities in the country every year.

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