ST. LOUIS — Protesters marched through St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood on Sunday.
The protest organized by Expect US was a call for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to resign. The protest came after a Facebook Live news briefing in which Krewson read the names and street addresses of protesters who are calling on the city to defund the police department.
They continued to march until two people came out of their home and pointed guns at them.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are the two people seen in the viral photos and videos. They can be seen holding the weapons and at times, pointing them at the crowd that was marching.
5 On Your Side’s Morgan Young spoke to two organizers from Sunday’s protests, Ohun Ashe and Reverend Darryl Gray.
They said no protesters were armed at the time the couple came outside with weapons.
“For them to come out there with their guns drawn, there was absolutely no reason at all,” Reverend Darryl Gray said.
“To be very clear, the gate was open. When we came off Kingshighway, the gate was open. As soon as protesters came through the open gate, the man and woman came out of their home. He came out first and was on the balcony.”
Mark McCloskey said somebody forced open the gate during an interview with 5 On Your Side.
“We could see the rifle, people began to shout, ‘he has a gun!’ People continued through the gate,” Gray said.
Gray had a megaphone and said he told people to stay off the property and stay on the sidewalk during the protest. He said people complied with those orders.
“Our first priority is always for the safety of the protesters and anyone else involved,” he said.
As protesters continued through the gate, Gray said that’s when the woman then came out with her pistol and then he said the man came down near the sidewalk.
Gray said he told people to continue to “move on” on the megaphone.
“At no time did I observe any of our people with weapons,” Gray said. He added that he did not observe anyone step foot on the couple’s property.
Around 9:30 p.m., Gray said there were protesters who were armed but they joined the protest at Union and Delmar, which is not where this incident took place.
He said at one point, maybe six people were on the sidewalk — the bulk of the protesters were in the street.
Earlier on Monday, 5 On Your Side interviewed the man seen with the gun.
Mark McCloskey told 5 On Your Side somebody forced the gate and he announced that “this is private property.” He said he then went back inside and got a rifle.
He called the protesters aggressive and said he was scared to death.
“One person pulled out some loaded pistol magazine and clicked them together and said that you were next,” McCloskey said during the interview.
Gray said people slowed down to take photos of what was happening.
“First of all, the crowd was not aggressive, the six people that were on the sidewalk were saying to ‘calm down,’ some people slowed down to take pictures and video of obviously a scene that no one expected to take place,” Gray said.
Gray said he read the article of the interview with Mark McCloskey and he said there were many inaccuracies.
“He was out on the balcony as we were entering the open door. When we came through, he was on the balcony and then the wife came down. So, there was never a threat to his property, there was never a threat to his home and had they not come out… the protesters would have continued on at a quick pace to the mayor’s home,” Gray said.
Mark McCloskey said during an interview with 5 On Your Side that he does civil rights cases.
“I do civil rights cases. Right now, I'm representing a young man who was assaulted by the police who is sitting in prison right now for being involved in a car accident after which the police came in and assaulted him. It's on video. I'm not some kind of extreme, you know, anti- Black Lives Matter guy. I do these cases. I have been doing them for decades.”
Gray called Mark McCloskey's statement convenient.
“Oh, it's definitely contradictory… It's convenient statement. If they were proponents of Black Lives Matters, then they would have understood the reason that we were there. And rather than coming outside banishing weapons,” he said.
Ohun Ashe said she thinks the couple saw stereotypes when they looked into the crowd.
"I don't know if they got it from family, friends, media, news or wherever they got the image from, but it is a problem when you do not see humanity in an entire crowd of people, when you can get an entire crowd and point a gun at them, you no longer see that humanity and it's a when you're that disconnected,” she said.
"We should not be living in a country where we are willing to risk the lives of people who are not attacking, who are not violent, who are not threatening because they are walking down a street."
Albert Watkins is representing Mark and Patricia McCloskey. Below is the full statement from Watkins:
“Both Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey are lawyers whose professional careers have punctuated by their long standing commitment to protecting the civil rights of clients victimized at the hands of law enforcement. This commitment of time and resources to this cause continues today in the Isaiah Forman case.
The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the McCloskeys. To the contrary, they were expecting 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.
Both Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey acted lawfully on their property which sits on a private gated lane in the City of St. Louis. 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.
“The Black Lives Matters movement is here to stay, it is the right message, and it is about time,” said Albert S. Watkins, legal counsel for Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey. “The McCloskeys want to make sure no one thinks less of BLM, its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest.”