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St. Louis police say couple had legal right to protect themselves from protestors

St. Louis police say that Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use deadly force to defend private property, is what gave a couple legal status to protect themselves.

As a group of demonstrators marched toward the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand that she resign, they marched through an area that was closed off to the public. After breaking into the private neighborhood, a husband-wife team stood outside with a rifle and a gun to protect their property.

The act of self-defense didn’t sit well with controversial Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner in St. Louis. Gardner, who has been accused of ethics violations in the past, is investigating the couple.

“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said in a statement posted to the office’s Twitter account on Monday.

Gardner may have a difficult time prosecuting the couple because the police have come down on the side of the couple.

According to police, “The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims. When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”

That incident went viral, with a video of the occurrence earning more than 10 million views. Now the police are “labeling it as a case of trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation” according to STLToday.com..

Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, said Mark McCloskey and his wife Patricia did not break any laws because the street where they live, Portland Place, is a private street.

“At any point that you enter the property, they can then, in Missouri, use deadly force to get you off the lawn,” Walker said. “There’s no right to protest on those streets. The protesters thought they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they were not allowed to be there. It’s essentially a private estate. If anyone was violating the law, it was the protesters. In fact, if (the McCloskeys) have photos of the protesters, they could go after them for trespassing.”

Albert Watkins, an attorney for the McCloskeys, said of his clients, who are both attorneys, “Their entire practice tenure as counsel (has) been addressing the needs of the downtrodden, for whom the fight for civil rights is necessary. My clients, as melanin-deficient human beings, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter needs to get out, especially to whites … (but) two individuals exhibited such force and violence destroying a century-plus old wrought iron gate, ripping and twisting the wrought iron that was connected to a rock foundation, and then proceeded to charge at and toward and speak threateningly to Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice