Saturday, 24 Oct 2020

A St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters and appeared at the Republican convention are indicted by a grand jury.

A grand jury in St. Louis returned an indictment on Tuesday against a white couple who brandished guns at Black protesters as they marched past their home in June in a menacing display caught on video that earned them a spotlight at the Republican National Convention and the admiration of President Trump.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering, both felonies, the McCloskeys’ lawyer, Joel J. Schwartz, said in an interview.

The indictment records in the case were sealed and a spokeswoman for the circuit attorney in St. Louis, Kimberly M. Gardner, said that she could not comment on the case.

The decision to move forward with the prosecution came a few hours after the couple made a brief appearance in St. Louis Circuit Court, where a judge postponed a hearing in the case until next week.

No charges have been filed against any of the protesters, which Mr. McCloskey complained about to members of the news media after leaving the courthouse.

“To everybody out there that’s thinking about voting for Joe Biden, the Harris-Biden administration, this is a sign of the times of things to come, the government that views its task as protecting criminals from honest citizens, rather than protecting citizens from honest criminals,” Mr. McCloskey said.

He then corrected himself: “protecting honest citizens from criminals.”

Mr. Trump has called the prosecution of the couple, who did a virtual campaign event for him, “a disgrace.” The Republican governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, has said he would most likely pardon them.

The couple’s confrontation with protesters came as Mr. Trump, playing on racist fears, baselessly warned that the unrest in American cities following the police killing of George Floyd would spread to the suburbs. The McCloskeys were given a prime-time speaking slot on the first night of the Republican convention.

On June 28, protesters marched past the McCloskeys’ home as they made their way to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson of St. Louis, a Democrat, whom they demanded to resign for releasing the names of city residents who supported defunding the police.

As demonstrators passed the house, Mr. McCloskey, 63, held a semiautomatic rifle and Ms. McCloskey, 61, held a semiautomatic handgun, according to a criminal complaint and probable cause statement from the prosecutor’s office.

Both pointed their weapons at the protesters, the prosecutor’s office said. Ms. McCloskey’s finger was “on the trigger” and she acted with an “excited demeanor,” the office noted.

Mr. McCloskey claimed on Tuesday that every one of the protesters were criminals and said they should have been charged with trespassing and breaking a gate on his property.

“The government chooses to persecute us for doing no more than exercising our right to defend ourselves, our home, our property and our family,” he said. “We didn’t fire a shot.”

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