Demonstrators heading towards St. Louis mayor’s residence were confronted by an armed couple when they reached a private street. The protesters had no choice but face the brandishing guns. Videos obtained by CNN show two individuals, a woman with a handgun and a man carrying a long rifle appeared outside a St. Louis home as protesters were on their way to Mayor’s (Lyda Krewson) residence whose decision to public the names and addresses of people in favor of police reform had upset the marchers. The videos available to CNN were apparently recorded by the protesters.
Daniel Shular, a local reporter talking about one of the footages said he watched the full 10-minute video. About 500 protesters were seen trying to curt through Portland Place to bypass the blocks set near the mayor’s home.
“A door next to the gate at Portland Place was unlocked and protesters went though it to cut through the neighborhood to get to Krewson’s house,” he told CNN.
That is when Shular says the man and woman – now identified as Mark and Patricia McCloskey – came outside their living space and pointed firearms at the group of protesters in self-defense. At one point in a 3-1second video, the woman directly points her handgun on the passing by demonstrators.
“A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside ad put us in fear of our lives,” Mark McCloskey, 63 spoke to CNN.
Property records also confirm the duo are owners of the property linked with the incident. St Louis Streets Department has also attested that Portland Place is not a public street.
“The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the McCloskeys,” told their attorney, Albert S. Watkins. “To the contrary, they were expecting and supportive of the message of the protesters. The actions of violence, destruction of property and acts of threatening aggression by a few individuals commingling with the peaceful protesters, gave rise to trepidation and fear of imminent and grave.”
The attorney says his clients behaved “lawfully on their property,” and that “their actions were borne solely of fear and apprehension, the genesis of which was not race related. In fact, the agitators responsible for the trepidation were white.”
Protesters welcomed with firearms
“This is all private property,” McCloskey went on to say in his statement to KMOV. “There are no public sidewalks or public streets. We were told that we would be killed, our home burned and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob.”
A second video taken by protester Avery Risch reveals how tense the scene became. At one point, the lady McCloskey, 61 can be see standing in the lawn and directly pointing guns in the direction of the mob. In both videos, it appears the property owners and protesters exchanged heated words but were not audible.
“Organizers and clergy were actively warning people prior to entering the street that there was a couple with guns and if you were not comfortable with that, do not enter the street,” Risch told CNN. “Organizers and clergy were also moving the crowd along and encouraging everyone to not give them the time of day.”
According to St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department they are investigating the incident.
“We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated,” she said in her statement. “Make no mistake: we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable.”
Gate Being Broken
In a video livestreamed on Facebook, the right gate door of the street is seen bent and broken on the ground which is opposite of the what protesters, Shular and Risch claimed.
“It looked like the gate was unlocked,” Shular told CNN. “I did not see anyone try to break it.”
In two of the videos livestreamed on Fb, the protesters and McCloskeys are heard making profane exchanges and hurling abuses at each other.
The police report says “when the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police”. Local reporter Daniel Shular admitted that he did see some armed people mingled with demonstrators but not one drew their guns on the residents.
Apology from Krewson
Mayor, Lyda Krewson knowing the seriousness of the incident took to twitter and offered apologies on the issue.
“I would like to apologize for identifying individuals who presented letters to me at City Hall today. This was during one of my Facebook updates as I was answering routine questions,” she wrote. “Never did I intend to harm anyone one cause distress. The update is removed and again, I apologize.”