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U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley is urging the Justice Department to open a civil rights violation investigation into a black St. Louis prosecuting attorney who is targeting a white couple who armed themselves to fend off a horde of Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
“This morning I have asked the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation into the St Louis Circuit Attorneys Office. Targeting law abiding citizens who exercise constitutionally protected rights for investigation & prosecution is an abuse of power,” the Missouri Republican and former state attorney general wrote on Twitter.
This morning I have asked the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation into the St Louis Circuit Attorneys Office. Targeting law abiding citizens who exercise constitutionally protected rights for investigation & prosecution is an abuse of power https://t.co/lg9GbisWgd
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 16, 2020
Hawley’s appeal is in response to St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner’s decision to look into potential criminal violations involving attorney Mark McCloskey and his wife, Patricia McCloskey, who defended their home with an AR-15 and handgun, respectively, after BLM protesters broke through a locked gate into their private community late last month.
— Daniel Shular (@xshularx) June 29, 2020
The St. Louis couple’s place is on the National Historic Register. It’s protected by the President’s executive order against the defilement of historical sites and statues. The more you know. pic.twitter.com/VLHmxdiEri
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 29, 2020
Protesters broke into the gated community en route to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home, which is in the same neighborhood, to call for the Democratic politician’s resignation. Demonstrators returned to the McCloskeys’ home the next evening.
“This is an unacceptable abuse of power and threat to the Second Amendment, and I urge you to consider a federal civil rights investigation into the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office to determine whether this investigation and impending prosecution violates this family’s constitutional rights,” Hawley wrote in a letter to Attorney General William Barr.
“There is no question under Missouri law that the McCloskeys had the right to own and use their firearms to protect themselves from threatened violence, and that any criminal prosecution for these actions is legally unsound. The only possible motivation for the investigation, then, is a politically motivated attempt to punish this family for exercising their Second Amendment rights.
“Indeed, this is part of a troubling pattern of politically motivated prosecutorial decisions by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, who has not seen fit to prosecute many violent offenders, and who has expressed hostility to gun rights in the past,” the former state AG added.
In subsequent interviews with various media, the McCloskeys recounted how they only decided to arm themselves in response to threats they were receiving from the throngs of protesters.
“This is all private property. There are no public sidewalks or public streets,” McCloskey told KMOV4. “We were told that we would be killed, our home burned and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob.
“It was like the storming of the Bastille. The gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through. I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed,” he said.
Shortly after the incident, Gardner announced her office would launch an investigation, not into the protesters who broke into private property, but the two homeowners who felt threatened and stood their ground, which is legal under most circumstances in the state of Missouri.
“I am alarmed at the events that happened over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns and a violent assault,” she said earlier this month. “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.”
“My office is currently working with the public and the police to investigate these events. Make no mistake: We will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable,” she added.
Statement from Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner in regards to events over weekend: pic.twitter.com/KqqFHIvL9Q
— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) June 29, 2020
Days later, police seized the AR-15 Mark McCloskey used during the standoff after Gardner secured a search warrant.
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