While the nation’s news media is fixated on the story of the couple in St. Louis who brought out their guns as protesters marched towards the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson (more on that in a moment), there were several other stories of armed citizens turning out in force to protect war memorials and even a rural sheriff’s department from rumored threats of violence.
Earlier today we reported on what happened in Shannon County, Missouri, where about a hundred people showed up in the downtown area after the local sheriff reported “credible threats” made against members of the sheriff’s department. The rumored unrest never materialized, and Sheriff Darrin Brawley says if peaceful protesters want to exercise their First Amendment rights, he’ll stand ready to protect them.
A similar message was put out by a group of armed veterans in Lebanon, Tennessee who stood guard over the Wilson County War Memorial over the weekend.
“A show of force can be a very powerful deterrent. We’re not here to fight, unless we have to,” Veteran Keith Sikora told News 2.
“I’m not here to promote violence, I’m not here against any race whatsoever. I’m for all good people and all good things in this country and preserving them,” added Veteran Joe Hester.
Sikora and Hester both served in the United States Marine Corps and hold the Wilson County Veteran’s Memorial very near to their hearts.
“It’s a big target because who else gave more for this country than the ones who gave their life, and if youre on the other side and you hate this country, the way they’re portraying the way they hate it, this is the best target to hit,” Sikora said.
Sikora started his watch five days ago and others like Hester have joined since.
By Saturday night, about a dozen veterans were standing guard at the memorial, which remains unmolested by vandals or protesters.
In St. Louis, meanwhile, the local prosecutor says her office is now investigating the couple who brought out their guns, though I’m not sure where Kimberly Gardner is getting her information about a “violent assault” that took place.
1/ I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors 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.
— Kimberly Gardner (@StLouisCityCA) June 29, 2020
It sure sounds like Gardner is going to do her best to try to bring charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who say they were threatened by the protesters Sunday evening.
Mark McCloskey reached out to News 4 Monday morning saying he was having dinner with his family outside of his home when the crowd went through wrought iron gates marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs on Portland Place.
“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 of our lives,” McCloskey said.
Despite his claims, video circulating on social media shows protesters opening and walking through the unbroken gate. It is unclear when it was actually damaged or who destroyed it.
“This is all private property. 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,” McCloskey told News 4.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Gardner does file charges against the McCloskeys, though I suspect that obtaining a conviction is going to be pretty difficult. In an earlier post, I took a look at the most likely charges that the McCloskeys could be facing, but there are issues for prosecutors in both cases.
According to the Missouri statutes, most assault charge requires actual physical injury, which didn’t happen in this case. In the case of assault in the 4th degree (a misdemeanor charge), prosecutors would have to demonstrate that the McCloskeys either purposely placed another person in apprehension of immediate physical injury or recklessly engaged in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person. I suppose prosecutors could argue that pointing the guns at protesters created a risk of death or serious physical injury even though no one was actually harmed by the McCloskeys, but I’m guessing that the attorneys would argue that they were simply protecting their property from hundreds of people who were trespassing in their gated community.
Others have claimed that the McCloskeys should be arrested for unlawful use of a weapon, for displaying “in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner,” but the state statute has an exemption for those engaged in a lawful act of defense.
Mark McCloskey says that he and his family were in fear for their lives, and given the violence that’s been a regular feature during protests in the city over the past month, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for prosecutors to prove that their fears were unreasonable. In fact, a good defense attorney may very well end up putting the city and its woeful handling of the riots and protests on trial while defending the McCloskey’s actions on their private property.
Be sure to check out today’s entire show in the video window above, and thanks as always for watching, listening, and spreading the word!