Kalashnikov Ken and Karen sue photographer who captured their iconic image

Wealthy St. Louis couple who confronted Black Lives Matter protesters with guns allege that Bill Greenblatt was trespassing when he took the now infamous snap.


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The McCloskeys
Mark and Patricia McCloskey
(Bill Greenblatt/UPI and Twitter)

One of the images that defined a crazy summer across America was that of an affluent late-middle-aged couple pointing guns at Black Lives Matter activists.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey – who were quickly dubbed by some as “Kalashnikov Ken and Karen” – shot to infamy when they took the decision to step onto their porch with their firearms.

The couple claimed that protesters had broken down their gate and that they feared they would be killed by the mob.

Nonetheless, many in America and the rest of the world derided them as the face of White privilege, and they were widely mocked for daring to defend their property.

Now, the couple are accusing a news photographer of trespassing to capture the iconic image of the June confrontation.

The McCloskeys, both personal injury attorneys in their 60s, filed a lawsuit last Friday against United Press International photographer Bill Greenblatt over his June 28 snap, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The photo — which shows Mark wielding an AR-15 rifle in a pink polo and slacks, with Patricia by his side holding a semiautomatic handgun — contributed to the couple’s “significant national recognition and infamy,” the suit states.

The defendants, including Greenblatt and UPI, are profiting from “t-shirts, masks, and other items, and licensing use of photographs bearing Plaintiffs’ likenesses, without obtaining Plaintiffs’ consent,” the court documents claim.

The suit also names online print-shop Redbubble for selling merchandise with the couple’s image accompanied by “mocking and pejorative taglines or captions” — causing them “humiliation, mental anguish, and severe emotional distress.”

“Defendants acted outrageously and beyond all reasonable bounds of decency, with their conduct regarded as atrocious and intolerable by any member of a civilized society,” the suit charges.

Meanwhile, UPI recently said it was considering whether to send a “cease and desist” order to the couple — because they’ve been using the news service’s photo in a personal greeting card.

Newspaper photographers are allowed to capture images from public rights of way.

The McCloskeys, who live on a private street, have argued that protesters were also trespassing during the incident, which has since become a political lightning rod, earning the couple a spot at the Republican National Convention in August.

The couple have since been indicted on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering in the encounter and pleaded not guilty.

In addition to damages, the McCloskeys are asking for the court to ban the use of the photo and to transfer ownership of the image to them, along with any others captured from their property.

Although the McCloskeys brush with Black Lives Matter earned them widespread derision, Crazy America argued at the time that they should be favorably contrasted with another prominent member of 2020’s rogue’s gallery – Permit Karen.

Whatever you think of the St. Louis couple – and you can certainly argue that their gun toting approach was excessive – they were reacting to people who trespassed on their property.

On the other hand, Permit Karen – aka known as Susan G. Schulz of Montclair, New Jersey – actively encroached on her Black neighbors property, demanding a permit for a patio they were building on their own land.

Susan G. Schulz
Susan G. Schulz

We said then – and stand by our view – that Permit Karen was infinitely worse.

At any rate, the question today is: will these crazy characters of peak 2020 insanity now fade into obscurity as we look toward the broad sunlit uplands of Biden’s America? Or will they become merely a comical prelude to a much deeper and darker clash of American cultures that lies ahead?

Only time will tell.

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