A group of Black Lives Matter protestors who were marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house to demand her resignation had guns pointed at them by a barefooted white couple who accused them of encroaching on their property and putting their lives and that of their pets in danger.
The demand for Krewson’s resignation comes after she was criticized for publicly reading out the names and addresses of residents who wrote letters calling for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to be defunded during a Facebook Live briefing on Friday.
Sunday night’s march to Krewson’s residence in the affluent Central West End neighborhood, however, gained national attention after the white couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, were filmed with a semi-automatic rifle with an extended clip and a pistol during a confrontation with the protestors outside their Renaissance palazzo-style home. Mark and Patricia, who are personal-injury lawyers, also pointed the guns at them.
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Speaking to KMOV-TV, the couple defended their actions, claiming they feared for their lives after some protestors allegedly destroyed their gate and entered their property. The couple’s mansion was featured in a local magazine after undergoing renovations.
“It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through,” Mark, 61, said. “I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed.”
Mark added they called 911 and armed themselves when they heard the crowd entering their private community, later claiming they received death threats during the confrontation.
“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 and put us in fear for our lives,” he said.
“One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said you’re next. That was the first death threat we got that night.”
Though video on social media showed protestors opening and passing through the gate, it is unclear when it was damaged, KMOV-TV reports. The couple also released a statement through their attorney, claiming their actions were lawful and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Both Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey acted lawfully on their property which sits on a private gated lane in the City of St. Louis. 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,” the statement read.
“‘The Black Lives Matters movement is here to stay, it is the right message, and it is about time,’ said Albert S. Watkins, legal counsel for Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey. ‘The McCloskeys 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.’”
Reacting to the confrontation as well as a separate one that happened the previous day, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner expressed her shock and said investigations are ongoing.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault. 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 shared on Twitter.
The video of the tense confrontation between the gun-wielding couple and the protestors was retweeted by President Trump after ABC News shared it.
Calls for Mayor Lyda Krewson to resign
Krewson has been under fire for publicly mentioning the names and addresses of residents who wrote letters calling for the police to be defunded during a Facebook Live briefing on Friday. Though their details are public records, a section of the public including officials and organizations, criticized her for endangering the lives of the residents in question and doxxing the protestors.
Krewson later deleted the video and issued an apology the same day.
“Tonight, I would like to apologize for identifying individuals who presented letters to me at City Hall as I was answering a routine question during one of my updates earlier today. While this is public information, I did not intend to cause distress or harm to anyone,” she said in the statement. “The post has been removed and again, I sincerely apologize.”
She, however, said she will not resign despite calls for her to step down.
“Mayor has apologized, acknowledged the mistake and that there was absolutely no malicious intent, and took down the video,” Krewson’s communications director, Jacob Long, told CNN on Sunday. “She won’t be resigning.”