Nine protesters who were confronted by a gun-toting couple in St Louis while passing their house during a Black Lives Matter march have been issued with trespassing citations.
Police spokeswoman Evita Caldwell confirmed that nine of the roughly 300 protesters who passed the McCloskey residence in June have been issued summons, but that a decision on whether to issue charges on the citations is still pending with the St Louis City Counselor’s office.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey were photographed brandishing semi-automatic guns at the protesters who walked past their $1.5m home during the protest following the killing in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis.
Reverend Darryl Gray, who led the protest, called the citations an attempt to intimidate peaceful protesters. “We’re not going to be threatened, and that’s what’s happening across this country,” said Rev Gray, who was not issued a summons
“You’ve got local governments and states who are trying to charge protesters, financially charge them, wanting them to pay costs. You’ve got others who want to make it a law against exercising our First Amendment right.”
The couple, who have since been supported by the president, was charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon as a result of the incident and complained they face criminal charges rather than “the mob” they claim threatened them during an appearance at the Republican National Convention.
The McCloskeys claimed the demonstrators ignored a “No Trespassing” sign and broke through a gate onto their private street, but protest leaders said the gate was open. No shots were fired during the incident.
“The radicals are not content just marching in the streets,” said Mr McCloskey during the video recorded for the RNC. “They want to walk the halls of Congress. They want power. This is Joe Biden’s party. These are the people who will be in charge.”
Several Republican leaders, including Mr Trump, have urged attorney general William Barr to pursue a civil rights investigation of the prosecutor who filed the charges. Their case is still pending in court.
Missouri law allows homeowners to use force, even lethal force, to defend their homes. Kim Gardner, a Democrat, said the guns created the risk of bloodshed.
A police probable cause statement said protesters feared “being injured due to Ms McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanour.”
Activist Ohun Ashe said on 4 September that she had received a summons for trespassing outside the McCloskeys’ home. “I had a gun waved in my face by them but trespassing is what matters?” she wrote on Twitter.
It was not clear why just nine of the around 300 protesters were issued summonses. Police declined to comment beyond a brief acknowledgement of the summonses when contacted by the Associated Press.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press