ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis couple charged with brandishing weapons while protesters demonstrating against racial injustice walked past their home pleaded not guilty to two felony charges on Wednesday.
Mark McCloskey, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61, appeared at a brief hearing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The couple had been indicted Oct. 6 by a grand jury on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence.
They will appear in court again on Oct. 28.
Charges filed in July by St. Louis Circuit Attorney said that on June 28, Mark McCloskey pointed an AR-15 rifle at protesters while Patricia McCloskey held a semiautomatic handgun. Each were charged with one felony count of brandishing a gun.
The grand jury added the evidence charge, the Post-Dispatch reported, alleging the couple altered the pistol Patricia McCloskey was holding. The attorney for the McCloskeys, Joel Schwartz, said the pistol was inoperable when she held it outside the couple’s mansion.
Schwartz said the McCloskeys have remained in contact with President Donald Trump, KMOV reported.
“They have spoken with the President,” Schwartz told reporters after the hearing. “The President contacts them semi-frequently.”
The McCloskeys declined to comment. Schwartz called the case “a political prosecution,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
“The fact that (Circuit Attorney) Kim Gardner and the Circuit Attorney’s Office has chosen to use their judicial resources to prosecute the McCloskeys, who are clearly innocent of any crime, committed no crime whatsoever, is sort of a travesty,” Schwartz told reporters.
The June protest came during national racial injustice demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Marchers were headed toward St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home when they veered off onto the street where the McCloskeys lived.
Nine people involved in the protest were charged with misdemeanor trespassing but the city counselor’s office later dropped the charges, according to The Associated Press.
“Every single human being that was in front of my house was a criminal trespasser,” Mark McCloskey said. “They broke down our gate. They trespassed on our property. Not a single one of those people is now charged with anything. We’re charged with felonies that could cost us four years of our lives and our law licenses.”
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