White St. Louis lawyers pull weapons on peaceful protesters marching through neighborhood

ST. LOUIS — A white St. Louis couple pulled weapons, including what appeared to be an assault rifle, on Black Lives Matter protesters who marched through their upscale neighborhood Sunday on their way to the mayor’s house.

A 31-second video posted on Twitter shows the couple outside their home, the man shouting at the protesters as the couple points their weapons at the crowd. It is unclear in the video what the man is shouting. Several demonstrators are heard urging fellow marchers to move on and ignore the couple.

The Riverfront Times in St. Louis, which had a reporter and photographer at the scene, identified the couple as personal injury lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

Several protesters could be seen using cellphones to record the couple, who became the subject of anger and ridicule on social media overnight.

Multiple people who responded to the video on Twitter pointed out that the McCloskeys appear in the video to hold their weapons improperly. Patricia McCloskey holds the pistol daintily in her hand while Mark McCloskey appears to ignore where his rifle is pointing – including multiple instances in which it’s pointed toward his wife.

“Guess which two gun nuts were not properly trained on how to hold their guns?” one commenter said.

“And he’s also pointing the rifle at his wife,” another wrote. “Today in well-regulated white supremacist militias.”

“Oh! Chad and Karen both pointed loaded weapons at themselves. Adorable,” the man continued.

According to Dictionary.com, “Karen” is “a pejorative slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviors.” Typically white male names like Chad have been used to describe similar men.

Several people on social media also pointed out that the McCloskeys appear to be brandishing the weapons at people, which could potentially result in criminal charges. In Missouri, the crime of unlawful use of a weapon includes when a person “exhibits, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.”

According to Missouri law, the crime is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Buzzfeed News reported that a police report obtained from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department lists the couple as the victims in the incident. The McCloskeys allege in the report that they called police after hearing a “loud commotion” from the street and “observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.”

The couple also told police the protesters were screaming obscenities and threatening them and that they brought their guns outside when they “observed multiple subjects who were armed,” Buzzfeed News said.

It is not clear in the video if any of the protesters were armed.

The ridicule of the McCloskeys, who specialize in medical malpractice lawsuits, quickly spread online. So did criticism of President Trump, who retweeted video of the couple aiming their weapons at the protesters.

The McCloskeys’ palatial home was profiled in August 2018 by St. Louis Magazine. The mansion was once the home of Anna Busch Faust, the daughter of the Busch beer-making family, and her husband. The attorneys’ McCloskey Law Center is located in the historic Niemann Mansion, also located in the Central West End.

Sunday’s protest, which The Associated Press reported numbered at around 500 people, was in response to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s press briefing on Friday, during which she was accused of “doxxing” several people demanding that she “defund” the city’s police department. While discussing letters the residents wrote, Krewson read off their names and partial addresses.

The briefing was held on Facebook Live.

>> Related story: What does ‘defunding the police’ mean?

Though the names and addresses are considered public record, the backlash against Krewson was quick and heavy. Critics accused her of potentially putting at risk the lives of those residents she named.

The mayor later removed the video from the social media site and apologized.

“Never did I intend to harm anyone or cause distress,” Krewson said in a statement. “The update is removed and, again, I apologize.”

As of Monday morning, a Change.org petition demanding Krewson’s departure had garnered more than 46,000 signatures.

Protesters on Sunday also called for Krewson’s resignation.

“Resign Lyda, take the cops with you,” they chanted as they marched toward her home, according to the AP.

A reporter with KMOV in St. Louis reported that the protesters painted the word “resign” on the street in front of Krewson’s home.

State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge Jr., D-St. Louis, joined those calling for Krewson’s resignation.

“As a leader, you don’t do stuff like that,” Aldridge told the crowd Sunday. “It’s only right that we visit her at her home.”

Cara Spencer, Krewson’s opposition in the mayoral race, stopped short of calling for Krewson to resign but was critical of her actions. Spencer joined the ACLU of Missouri in describing the mayor’s use of the names and addresses as intimidation.

“No leader should resort to intimidation of the residents they were elected to represent,” Spencer wrote on Twitter. “Period.”

Megan Green, the alderwoman for St. Louis’ 15th Ward, also criticized the mayor.

“Hey @LydaKrewson. So not cool to doxx my constituents who support #DefundThePolice on your FB live today,” Green tweeted. “It’s a move designed to silence dissent, and it’s dangerous. #DoBetter.”

One protester, Emily Edgell, told KMOV on Sunday that Krewson’s apology was not enough.

“You don’t understand,” Edgell said, her comments aimed at the mayor. “I mean, that’s the nicest way to put it. You couldn’t possibly understand.”

Protesters have gathered across the U.S. on a daily basis following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. One of the demands of demonstrators has been that cities “defund” their police forces, or divert funding from the police to social services in the communities.

The call for increased social services and decreased policing is designed to curb police killings, particularly those of men and women of color.

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