A group of protesters in Missouri who famously found themselves facing an armed husband and wife may soon be facing multiple charges.
As a group of demonstrators marched toward the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home on Sunday night to demand that she resign, they marched through an area that was closed off to the public, where a husband-wife team stood outside with a rifle and a gun to protect their property.
According to police, “The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims. When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
That incident went viral, with a video of the occurrence earning over 10 million views.
Now the police are “labeling it as a case of trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation” according to St. Louis Today.
St. Louis police investigating a confrontation caught on cellphone video of white neighbors of Mayor Lyda Krewson pointing guns at protesters marching by their mansion. https://t.co/t9GKxpzRGW pic.twitter.com/lVeDYYLMFQ
— ABC News (@ABC) June 29, 2020
As noted by St. Louis Today, Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, said that Mark McCloskey and his wife Patricia did not break any laws because the street where they live, Portland Place, is a private street. He added that the couple is protected by Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use deadly force to defend private property.
FindLaw explains, “This legal doctrine assumes that if an invader disrupts the sanctity of your home, they intend to do you harm and therefore you should be able to protect yourself or others against an attack. Missouri’s law is more extensive than those of other states because it allows you to use deadly force to attack an intruder to protect any private property that you own, in addition to yourself or another individual. This means that if someone illegally enters your front porch or backyard, you can use deadly force against them without retreating first.”
“At any point that you enter the property, they can then, in Missouri, use deadly force to get you off the lawn,” said Walker, adding, “There’s no right to protest on those streets. The protesters thought they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they were not allowed to be there. … It’s essentially a private estate. If anyone was violating the law, it was the protesters. In fact, if (the McCloskeys) have photos of the protesters, they could go after them for trespassing.”
To gain access to Portland Place, the crowd had to go through an iron pedestrian gate. The McCloskeys said the crowd broke the gate to gain entrance.
Mark McCloskey told KSDK that after he stood outside with his rifle, “At that point, everybody got enraged. There were people wearing body armor. One person pulled out some loaded pistol magazines and clicked them together and said that you were next. We were threatened with our lives, threatened with the house being burned down, my office building being burned down, even our dog’s life being threatened. It was about as bad as it can get.”
He continued, “I really thought it was storming the Bastille, that we would be dead and the house would be burned and there was nothing we could do about it. It was a huge and frightening crowd.”
An attorney for the McCloskeys, Albert S. Watkins, said of his clients, who are both attorneys, “Their entire practice tenure as counsel (has) been addressing the needs of the downtrodden, for whom the fight for civil rights is necessary. My clients, as melanin-deficient human beings, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter needs to get out, especially to whites … (but) two individuals exhibited such force and violence destroying a century-plus old wrought iron gate, ripping and twisting the wrought iron that was connected to a rock foundation, and then proceeded to charge at and toward and speak threateningly to Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey.”