Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white couple that threatened Black Lives Matter protesters with guns as they marched through a wealthy St. Louis suburb, are facing felony charges.
Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner released a statement announcing that her office had filed charges against the couple for unlawful use of a weapon – a class E felony.
"It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis," Gardner said in the statement. "We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated."
The June 28 incident was slammed by Black Lives Matter supporters, and praised by Second Amendment activists.
Images of the two began circulating on social media and were aired on all major news outlets almost immediately. In the images, Patricia was aiming her handgun at the crowd, while Mark clutched a long-barreled gun. The incident sparked heated debate about the right and protections of protesters.
The McCloskeys, both personal injury attorneys, have stated repeatedly that they were afraid of the passing anti-racism demonstrators, and have called the peaceful group a "mob."
They maintained that they feared for their lives and that their actions were to protect their property. They have accused the demonstrators of ignoring "No Trespassing" signs and damaging an iron gate.
However, one of the protest leaders contested the couple’s version of events, and stated that the gate was already open, maintaining that no protester damaged it.
The attorney representing the McCloskeys, Joel Schwartz, released a statement claiming that the charges against his clients "are disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed."
"I, along with my clients, support the First Amendment right of every citizen to have their voice and opinion heard," he added. "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."
Missouri Governor Mike Parson stated that he would most likely pardon the McCloskeys if they were charged.
On Monday, Gardner stated that she was willing to reduce the unnecessary involvement of the courts.
"I am open to recommending the McCloskeys participate in one of my office's diversion programs," she said. "I believe this would serve as a fair resolution to this matter."
Sources: America Now