St. Louis Couple Seen Aiming Guns at Protesters to Appear at Republican National Convention
The St. Louis couple seen in a viral video aiming guns at protesters outside their home earlier this summer are planning to take part in the 2020 Republican National Convention, PEOPLE confirms.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are slated to speak at the political event next week, according to their attorney, Joel Schwartz. The four-night event begins Monday, immediately following this week's Democratic National Convention. (A spokesperson for the RNC did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.)
The McCloskeys were charged in July with unlawful use of a weapon by exhibiting. Video from the incident showed the two personal injury lawyers, who are white, brandishing guns in front of a large crowd of protesters outside their home.
Mark was filmed holding a large assault weapon, while Patricia was holding a pistol.
Protesters were headed to the nearby home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and were calling on her to resign. Krewson stirred controversy on June 26 when, on a Facebook Live broadcast, she read aloud the names and addresses of constituents who called for defunding the police and redirecting the money to social services. (She later apologized on Twitter and removed the Facebook video.)
Schwartz, the couple's attorney, has said he believes "no crime was committed."
He told PEOPLE on Tuesday that while "the case is currently proceeding through preliminary phases," he will "vigorously defend my clients in that not only are they innocent of any criminal offense under the laws of Missouri, they are victims of a brazen political prosecution."
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told the Associated Press that charges were filed because "it is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner — that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis."
According to the AP, Gardner was recommending that, if the couple is found guilty, they should enter a diversion program such as community service and not be jailed. (A spokesperson for the Circuit Attorney's office declined to comment on the pending investigation on Tuesday.)
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In a previous statement, Schwartz said in July: "I, along with my clients, support the First Amendment right of every citizen to have their voice and opinion heard. This right, however, must be balanced with the Second Amendment and Missouri law, which entitle each of us to protect our home and family from potential threats.”
Police have said the McCloskeys’ street is private and that protesters broke down a gate to gain access. A police statement obtained by NBC News and other outlets said that “once through the gate, the victims advised the group that they were on a private street and trespassing and told them to leave.”
The police statement added: “The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims. When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
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Mark told local TV station KMOV that the protesters allegedly threatened the couple, their house and their dog. He claimed that one man “pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said 'you’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night.”
However, the police assertion that the McCloskeys picked up their guns after being threatened was apparently contradicted by Mark himself, who told KMOV, “The threats happened probably after we got the guns.”
Missouri state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, who organized the protest, said he did not hear any threats from protesters.
Aldridge acknowledged to KMOV that protesters were aware the street was private, saying then, “Just like in many disobedient protests, even in the '60s, you break laws, make people feel uncomfortable. We’re not doing anything where we’re hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger.”
In a recent interview with Mark, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asked how it felt that the couple had become “the face of political resistance to the Black Lives Matter movement."
Mark replied: “I’m not the face of anything opposing the Black Lives Matter movement. I was a person scared for my life who was protecting my wife, my home, my hearth, my livelihood.”