[guest post by Dana]
Here’s video of the run-in between St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s neighbors and protesters, who were on their way to protest at the first-term Democratic mayor’s home:
here’s what happens when you march on Portland Place in St. Louis, MO
they’re scared of their own community pic.twitter.com/Ng8qW1Pa6C
— avery (@averyrisch) June 29, 2020
(Well, they’re scared of hundreds of people marching past their home…)
President Trump retweeted ABC’s clip this morning, which shows the confrontation from a little bit different angle:
— ABC News (@ABC) June 29, 2020
ABC News reports:
St. Louis police confirmed on Monday that they are investigating a confrontation caught on cellphone video of some white neighbors of Mayor Lyda Krewson pointing guns at protesters marching by their mansion on the way to the mayor’s home.
The episode occurred Sunday afternoon, when hundreds of demonstrators entered the gated Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, banging drums and chanting for Krewson to resign and “take your cops with you.”
Cellphone video that went viral on social media showed a white couple—a man armed with what appeared to be a semiautomatic rifle and a woman wielding a silver-plated pistol with her finger on the trigger—emerging from their five-story limestone home. They were pointing the weapons at the protesters and yelling at them that they were on a private street. Demonstrators are heard in the videos telling other protesters to keep moving toward Krewson’s home and to ignore the couple.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department [SLMPD] told ABC News on Monday that the couple, who police described as the victims, placed a “call for help” at 7:23 p.m. and that they are investigating the confrontation as a “trespassing/assault 4th intimidation” case.
From the police summary of the incident:
“The victims stated they were on their property when they heard a loud commotion coming from the street,” according to an incident summary of the ongoing investigation provided to ABC News by the SLMPD. “When the victims went to investigate the commotion, they observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.
“Once through the gate, the victims advised the group that they were on a private street and trespassing and told them to leave,” according to the couple’s statement to the police included in the summary. “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.”
The couple released a statement through their attorney today. In part:
“The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the McCloskeys,” the statement reads. “To the contrary, they were expecting [sic] and supportive of the message of the protesters. The actions of violence, destruction of property and acts of threatening aggression by a few individuals commingling with the peaceful protesters, gave rise to trepidation and fear of imminent and grave harm.
“Both Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey acted lawfully on their property which sits on a private gated lane in the City of St. Louis,” the statement reads. “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.”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced that her office is investigating the matter:
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.
Protesters had been marching toward Mayor Krewson’s after she doxed constituents on Friday who had written letters supporting the move to defund the police:
During her Facebook Live on Friday, Krewson was asked about a meeting she had with protesters outside City Hall. Krewson grabbed submitted letters and read them, including the names and both partial and full addresses of those calling to defund the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
As a result of Krewson’s actions, an online petition calling for her resignation has garnered more than 40,000 signatures.
After the incident with the gun-toting couple, protesters eventually wound up at the mayor’s residence, and painted a large RESIGN sign on the street in front of her home.
Just a couple of things. This story is exhausting because it represents yet another effort for one group to portray the other group as the absolute worst of. To claim that the homeowners were scared of their own community is to intentionally ignore the fact that most of us would be unnerved, at the very least, to see hundreds of protesters marching past their home, especially if their home was located on a private road in a gated enclave. And because their neighbor happens to be the mayor of their city. I don’t find their concern unreasonable. But. The couple could have just as easily left the patio where they were dining, gone inside their home, called 911, and waited for the police to arrive. Given their exclusive location, they would have undoubtedly seen a quick response time by the police. The couple also could have gone outside and tried to engage with the crowd, and assure them of their support for the protesters (as they claimed they did in their statement) to help defuse the situation. [Ed. This was said sarcastically because I don’t believe that the couple really supported the protesters, in spite of their statement that they did.] And most definitely, the couple could have left their guns inside the residence, because brandishing firearms was surely seen as a provocation, especially when the woman was waving her gun around and pointing it directly at the crowd. If they wanted to send a message to the protesters that they were protecting their home, why not remain on the front porch with weapons in hand? Weapons, that I am convinced neither one knows how to properly use, given their carelessness with them. Look, I understand being concerned – and even fearful – when hundreds of people are in front of one’s home, yelling and chanting. And the couple did claim that some protesters were armed. I understand how that could feel threatening. I guess the question is, was this that? Were the homeowners exercising their legal rights? And what about the protesters?
ADDED: In spite of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner assessment of the incident, here is Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, discussing Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, and whether the protesters were trespassing:
…Walker 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.”
Luckily, Walker said, no one got shot.
“There’s no right to protest on those streets,” Walker said. “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.”