Politics

Missouri Governor Pardons St. Louis Couple Who Aimed Guns at Protesters

A St. Louis couple who gained prominence last year after they were filmed pointing guns at social justice demonstrators in front of their house were pardoned last week by Gov. Mike Parson.

Mr. Parson’s decision, made last week and announced in a news release on Tuesday, came more than a month after the couple, Patricia and Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges over the confrontation.

Mr. Parson, a Republican, had promised to pardon the couple in an interview with KFTK last year.

Mark McCloskey, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault and was fined $750. Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment and was fined $2,000.

As part of the plea deal, Ms. McCloskey gave up the Bryco handgun she brandished during the confrontation on June 28, 2020, when protesters, many of whom were Black, marched past the McCloskeys’ home on a private street on their way to the home of former Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, who lived nearby.

Ms. Krewson had angered local residents after she went on Facebook Live and read the names and addresses of people who had said the police should be defunded in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Mr. McCloskey agreed to relinquish ownership of the weapon he used, an AR-15 rifle. Neither faced jail time under the plea deal.

The McCloskeys said they had felt they were in imminent danger from the protesters. Images of the couple pointing their weapons at protesters circulated widely, garnering national attention as protesters across the country demanded social justice and an end to police brutality in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s killing.

Joel J. Schwartz, a lawyer for the McCloskeys, said on Tuesday night that his clients “were thrilled and looking forward to putting this behind them,” adding that Mr. McCloskey “feels vindicated in his actions.”

Mr. Parson’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday evening.

Mr. McCloskey agreed with prosecutors earlier this year that he had put the protesters in danger. “That’s what the guns were there for,” he said, “and I’d do it again anytime the mob approaches me.”

The day after the protest, President Donald J. Trump retweeted a video of the gun-toting couple. Last August, the couple spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Republicans and conservatives rallied to the couple’s defense.

Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, said the case against the McCloskeys was “a politically motivated attempt to punish this family for exercising their Second Amendment rights.” Mr. Trump said that the prosecution of the couple was “a disgrace.”

The attention helped catapult Mr. McCloskey into politics. He announced in May that he would run as a Republican for the Senate seat currently held by Roy Blunt, another Republican, who earlier announced he would not seek re-election next year.

Mr. Parson has brought his state to the front lines of a culture war over Second Amendment gun rights. He championed a new law, passed last month, that threatens a penalty of $50,000 against any local police agency that enforces certain federal gun laws and regulations.

“We will fight any attempts from the federal government to encroach on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Eric Schmitt, Missouri’s attorney general, has said of the law.


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