Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who gained national notoriety from images of them pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their mansion, were both charged on Monday with felony unlawful use of a weapon, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced.
However, if Missouri Gov. Mike Parson stays true to his word, the charges may be a mere symbolic gesture.
Gardner said that the McCloskeys, both attorneys in their 60s, risked inciting violence during a non-violent protest on June 28. Video from the incident showed Mark with a long-barrelled gun and Patricia with a small handgun. No shots were fired, but Gardner believes that the McCloskeys were still behaving unlawfully.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner,” Gardner told AP. She added that she would be recommending a diversion program such as community service if the McCloskeys were convicted, rather than jail time.
Many Republicans and gun-rights advocates have defended the couple, claiming that they had a right to protect their property from the perceived threat, but the McCloskeys’ most important supporter is Gov. Parson. In a radio interview on Friday, Parson said that the couple “had every right to protect themselves” and, while he stopped short of guaranteeing a pardon, he responded, “I think that’s exactly what would happen” when asked if he would consider one.
“We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights,” he later tweeted.
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