ST. LOUIS — The couple who pointed guns at protesters outside their mansion in the Central West End didn’t break the law, according to a constitutional law professor.
Anders Walker, a professor of constitutional and criminal law at Saint Louis University, said there are two prongs to his reasoning: Missouri’s Castle Doctrine and the uniquely private street where the encounter occurred.
“A lot of people are not familiar with Missouri's Castle Doctrine, which we have extended to real property,” Walker said.
That means people are allowed to use force to defend not only their home but also their land.
And in this case, the gated, private Portland Place, where homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey live, counts as their land, Walker said.
Walker said the neighbors collectively own the street, so the McCloskeys had the right to defend it. The protesters didn’t have the right to be there.
“Constitutional law generally holds that you have the right to protest on a sidewalk. It’s called a public forum. But if it’s a private street, it’s not a public forum,” he said.
Walker said in this case, it appears it’s the protesters who broke the law.
“The protesters themselves are trespassing,” he said.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner doesn’t appear to agree with his reasoning. She released a video statement Monday saying she was disturbed by what happened and she would use Missouri law to “hold individuals accountable.”
"We must protect the rights to peacefully protest, and any attempts to chill it through intimidation or use of force will not be tolerated,” Gardner said.