St. Louis, MO has been the scene of violent protests over the past few weeks. In the most notorious case of violence related to the unrest, rioters murdered retired police captain David Dorn and ransacked his pawnshop. Dorn was black. His killers shot him multiple times.
As “defund the police” gained traction in St. Louis and other cities, and cities all over the country lost hard-won ground to violent crime, Americans purchased firearms in record numbers. They are preparing to have to defend themselves.
It was in this context, and the rising violence and abdication of public safety in St. Louis and many other cities around the country, that a St. Louis couple, Mike and Patricia McCloskey, suddenly found themselves facing a large number of protesters on their property last month. The moment was captured on video that went viral.
The McCloskeys were having dinner when the protesters showed up. The McCloskeys were not the protesters’ target — the city’s mayor was — but the protesters were on private property and had damaged a gate on their way in.
Protests have turned violent in an instant, and there is evidence some of the protesters in this instance may have been armed.
The couple retrieved their rifle and handgun and made sure the protesters were aware that they were armed. There was a brief, intense confrontation that thankfully did not turn deadly.
When they kick in the gate, when the first thing they do is destroy private property and they storm in angry and shouting and threatening. This isn’t a protest. It’s a revolution. It’s just an attempt to inflict terror.
Protesters have once returned to their property, chanting “If we don’t get no justice, then they don’t get no peace.”
The city’s circuit attorney, Kimberly Gardner, has had police confiscate the couple’s rifle, leaving them apparently undefended should anyone want to harm them. The McCloskeys believe Gardner will have them indicted as well.
But the state’s Republican governor has weighed in on the McCloskey’s side.
Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson said during a Tuesday press briefing that Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who were captured on video brandishing firearms as Black Lives Matter protesters marched past their home in June, had “every right” to attempt to protect their private property.
Governor Parsons defended the McCloskey’s actions Tuesday. “That couple had every right to protect their property,” Parson said. “They have the ability to do that as private citizens like everyone else.”
Missouri respects the Castle Doctrine, which provides legal defense should a citizen use a firearm to defend their property.
Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, said that although it’s “very dangerous” to engage protesters with guns, the homeowners broke no laws by brandishing or pointing weapons at them because Portland Place is a private street. He said the McCloskeys are protected by Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use deadly force to defend private property.
“At any point that you enter the property, they can then, in Missouri, use deadly force to get you off the lawn,” Walker said, calling the state’s Castle Doctrine a “force field” that “indemnifies you, and you can even pull the trigger in Missouri.”
The gate that protesters evidently broke on their way into the neighborhood, and the street they stood on, are both private property. There is no right for anyone to protest on private property. About 87 protesters found that out this week in Kentucky, and now face charges for protesting on the yard of the state’s attorney general.
Missouri Gov. Parsons and Circuit Attorney Gardner, a Republican and Democrat respectively, provide a clear choice for voters to examine as they head to the voting booth. The Republicans will defend your right to defend yourself and your family. The Democrats will use force to disarm you, leave you unprotected by defunding and demoralizing the police in your city, and they may even prosecute you for exercising your right to continue breathing.