Two of the stars of the Republican National Convention have been indicted in St. Louis on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey garnered their 15 minutes of infamy for standing outside their lavish mansion with firearms trained on peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters who walked past their home June 28 on their way to demonstrate at the nearby home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The McCloskey’s have claimed they were acting in self-defense after the “horde” of protesters broke down an entrance to their gated neighborhood (which apparently was previously broken). Video evidence suggested otherwise, and the grand jury apparently believed it, and actually added a charge of tampering.
Immediately after his arrest, and before making the national cable TV rounds, McCloskey had issued a statement through an attorney saying, “The Black Lives Matters movement is here to stay, it is the right message, and it is about time. The McCloskey’s want to make sure no one thinks less of BLM, its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest.”
But their tune quickly changed when they became heroes among Republicans nationally. President Donald Trump had pronounced charges against the McCloskey’s as a disgrace” --and they were invited to speak at the RNC convention after having appeared in a Trump campaign video in which they were interviewed by campaign finance chair and human megaphone Kimberly Guilfoyle.
At the convention, Mark McCloskey said, “We have a God-given right to defend ourselves, and the rest of self-defense is one of the most basic civil rights, one of the most basic human rights.”
If that irony weren’t enough to explain training weapons on unarmed civil-rights protesters walking down a street past your house, there was this from Patricia McCloskey: “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning…(to) bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into thriving suburban neighborhoods.”
Patricia McCloskey’s statement drew special note in St. Louis, as the couple reside in the heart of the city--miles from the suburbs--in a neighborhood of historic mansions. The McCloskey’s were called out in a public open letter from more than two dozen of their well-to-do neighbors:
“Some of us choose to speak out following the horrific event that transpired near our homes,” the neighbors wrote. “We condemn the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest, whether it be in this neighborhood or anywhere in the United States.”
The McCloskey’s have a personal-injury law practice together in St. Louis. They did not address “tort reform”--a traditional Republican priority--in their convention speeches.
The McCloskey’s, heretofore little known in St. Louis, gained much celebrity among Trump supporters in Missouri, including Republican Governor Mike Parson, who made what is believed to be an unprecedented offer to pardon the McCloskey’s before they were charged. Parson is an ardent Trump supporter who has refused to mandate the use of what he has referred to as “dang masks.”
Parson and his wife Teresa contracted COVID-19, but apparently have recently recovered.
Even more bizarre, Eric Schmitt, the state’s Republican attorney general, entered the equivalent of an amicus brief defending the McCloskey’s Second Amendment rights after they were charged by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
As attorney general, Schmitt is presumably on the same side (the state) as Gardner and statutorily would handle the appeal of a guilty verdict if Gardner were to prevail. His role as a de facto member of McCloskey’s defense team might pose a conflict were that to happen.
Gardner, elected as part of a recent national wave of African American reform prosecutors (in 2016), has been the prime target of Missouri Republicans--and white city police officers-- in her first term. Gardner effectively won reelection in the largely Democratic city in August, when she trounced a former assistant circuit attorney, who is white, in a 21.5-point Democratic primary landslide.
Yesterday, the McCloskey’s held a small protest of their own with a news conference in downtown St. Louis criticizing the city counselor’s office--unrelated to Gardner--which had opted not to pursue trespassing charges against the protesters who had marched by their house in June.
Mark McCloskey called out the “leftist” city government for targeting him and his wife for “doing no more than exercising our Second Amendment rights.”
Apparently, the grand jury didn’t think so.