A white couple standing outside their St. Louis mansion and pointed guns at protesters said they took action because their door had been destroyed and they feared for their lives. The video posted online showed Mark McCloskey, 63, and his wife of 61, Patricia, standing outside their Renaissance palazzo-style home on Sunday night in the city’s well-to-do Central West End neighborhood as the Protesters were marching towards the mayor’s house to demand his resignation.
He could be heard screaming while holding a long-barreled weapon. His wife was at his side with a gun.
Mark McCloskey told CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV that he and his wife, both attorneys, were facing an “angry crowd” on their private street and fearing for their lives.
“It was like the Bastille assault, the door fell and a huge crowd of angry and aggressive people came in,” said Mark McCloskey. “I was terrified that they would kill us in seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed.”
Mark said they called 911 and took up their weapons when they heard the crowd approach their private community at Portland Place.
“A crowd of at least 100 walked through the historic wrought-iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed to my house where my family was dining outside and made us fear for our lives,” said Mark McCloskey.
Despite his claims, the video circulating on social media shows protesters opening and walking through the door uninterrupted. It is unclear when it was actually damaged or who destroyed it, says KMOV.
The couple also claims that they received death threats from the crowd.
“A colleague standing in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, put them together and said, ‘You are next.’ That was the first death threat we had that night,” said Mark McCloskey.
Rasheen Aldridge helped lead the protest, which was organized by a group called “Expect Us”. He said the protesters were peaceful and that no threats were ever made.
When asked why the group was marching on private property, Aldridge said: “As with many disobedient protests, even in the 1960s, it breaks the laws, makes people uncomfortable. We are not doing anything where we are hurting. anyone or putting anyone in danger. “
The couple mainly handles personal injury and civil rights cases, says KMOV.
They depict a man seen on video being kicked by a former Woodson Terrace, Missouri officer after a car theft in May 2019.
“There must be some voice for people who have no voice and I would like to think that we are that entity,” Mark McCloskey told KMOV.
McCloskeys attorney Albert Watkins said in a statement to CBS News Monday night that: “Both Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey are attorneys whose careers have marked their long-standing commitment to protect civil rights of clients victimized at the hands of law enforcement.
“… The peaceful protesters were not the subject of contempt or scorn by the McCloskeys. On the contrary, they expected and supported the message of the protesters.
Watkins told The Associated Press that they took up their weapons when two or three protesters, who were white, violently threatened the couple and their property and that of their neighbors.
“The most important thing for them is that their images (holding weapons) do not become the basis of a rallying cry for people who oppose the Black Lives Matter message,” Watkins said. “They want to make it very clear that they believe the Black Lives Matter message is important.”
Watkins told CBS News: “The Black Lives Matters movement is here to stay, it is the right message and it is time. The McCloskeys want to make sure that no one thinks less about BLM, its message and the media it is using to spread its message because to the actions of a few white individuals that tarnished a peaceful protest. “
No charges were filed against the McCloskeys, and Watkins said in the statement: “Under no circumstances do I expect charges to be brought against one or both of my clients.”
Police said they were still investigating, but called it a case of intrusion and assault for intimidation of the couple by protesters in the racially diverse crowd.
However, circuit attorney Kimberly Gardner released a statement Monday later that characterized what happened differently and said her office was working with police to investigate the confrontation.
“I am alarmed by the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met with firearms and a violent assault,” she said. “We must protect the right to protest peacefully and any attempt to cool it down by intimidation or threat of lethal force will not be tolerated.”
The protesters were angry with Mayor Lyda Krewson for reading aloud the names and addresses of several residents who wrote letters calling for the police department to be removed. The group of at least 500 people chanted, “Give up, Lyda! Take the police with you!” news reports.
The McCloskeys’ home, which appeared in local St. Louis magazine after a renovation, was priced at $ 1.15 million.
President Trump retweeted an ABC News account of the confrontation without comment.
Krewson has faced demands for his resignation since a Facebook Live briefing on Friday in which the white mayor read the names of those who wrote letters about the desire to remove the police force. The video was removed and Krewson apologized the same day, saying it was not intended to cause distress.
The Rev. Darryl Gray, an ExpectUs organizer, who used a megaphone to urge protesters to keep moving after the couple brandished firearms, blamed Krewson and said he “dumped gasoline on an already burning fire” by revealing people’s homes.
The names and letters are considered public records, but Krewson’s actions caused a strong reaction.
“As a leader, you don’t do things like that … It’s okay for us to visit her at her home,” said State Representative Rasheen Aldridge, a Democrat from St. Louis, speaking into a bullhorn on the march.