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9 Protesters Confronted By Gun-Waving St. Louis Couple Get Trespassing Citations

Nine Black Lives Matter protesters who were confronted by a white St. Louis couple waving an AR 15-style rifle and a semi-automatic pistol as they allegedly stood guard on the beautifully manicured lawn of their mansion, have been issued trespassing summonses for marching onto a private property.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department issued the citations after more than two months of investigations, and these are now under review by the city counselor's office, officials told NPR.

The bizarre and potentially dangerous standoff made national headlines in June, catapulting the wealthy couple into fame and infamy — depending on one's political leanings — and stoked partisan debate over the rights and protections of protesters versus those of Second Amendment supporters.

It also landed Mark and Patricia McCloskey a spot in the Republican National Convention, even as they face felony charges from the St. Louis circuit attorney's office.

Videos of the confrontation show Black Lives Matter protesters, who were marching toward Mayor Lyda Krewson's nearby house, shouting at the pair — both attorneys — to put away their guns.

Patricia McCloskey can be seen with her finger on the trigger as she waved the gun at demonstrators. Mark McCloskey clutches a long-barreled gun and can be heard shouting, "Get the hell out of my neighborhood."

Protesters paraded through the ritzy enclave, calling for Krewson's resignation for releasing the names and addresses of residents who suggested defunding the police department.

The couple has repeatedly said they feared for their lives and were only trying to protect their home. On several occasions they described the protesters as criminals and during their RNC appearance said, "They want to walk the halls of Congress."

The specifics of the alleged infractions by the protesters are unclear. Early reports said the McCloskeys alleged that protesters had broken a gate to enter the wealthy community. But police officials on Friday did not disclose whether that is among the charges.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Evita Caldwell said in an email that the summonses "are closed at this time."

Caldwell did not indicate whether additional citations will be issued in the future. Neither did she explain the criteria the department used to identify and ticket the nine protesters, when about 300 participated in the march on June 28.

City Counselor Julian Bush told NPR his office received the citations earlier this week.

"It's now incumbent on the city counselor to decide whether or not to charge these people," Bush said.

He expects it'll take his office about two weeks to go through the documentation provided by the police department.

"We have to assess whether or not it's likely that a conviction could be obtained. If there's no probable cause or it's not in the broader interest" of the community, then the city counselor will not prosecute, he said.

If his office does move ahead with prosecution, the protesters could face a fine of up to $500, incarceration up to 90 days or probation. But Bush added, "It's very, very rare for anyone to receive a penalty of incarceration for a municipal ordinance violation."

On Sept. 4, Black Lives Matter activist Ohun Ashe posted on Twitter that she had received a summons from the police department.

"I was just sent a summons to appear in court for 'trespassing on private property' on Portland Pl aka the street Patricia and Mark McCloskey live on," she wrote.

"I had a gun waved in my face by them but trespassing is what matters?" she added.

In July, Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner recommended "that the McCloskeys participate in one of my office's diversion programs." And Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he would likely pardon the couple if they were charged.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.