Even by the standards of this moment of madness we are living through, it has got to rank as one of the more bizarre stories.
At the beginning of this week, media lambasted the wealthy Missouri couple who pointed weapons at protesters. Outlets noted the race of the homeowners as though that was a critical element of the story (they are white).
In an attempt to salvage their reputation, and also as they now face investigation for their actions, the couple launched a media counter-offensive of their own late Monday.
The man and woman, now identified as Mark and Patricia McCloskey, are prominent lawyers in St. Louis. They insisted that they acted lawfully and that they were responding to trespassers who had not only entered their property illegally but had also threatened to kill them.
What’s more, the couple argue, some of those protesters were themselves armed, leaving the couple in fear of their lives.
Cleverly, the McCloskeys let it be known that they are both Democratic donors and wholehearted supporters of Black Lives Matter. And, that’s not all. They also declared loudly that the protesters they thought posed the biggest threat were white.
Sounds plausible. Maybe not Ken and Karen after all?
But then, a PR blunder Marie Antoinette would have been proud of.
Mark McCloskey gave a TV interview and made a reference that any self-respecting spin doctor would have vetoed before it left his mouth.
As he sat down with local NBC affiliate KSDK, McCloskey said that the only thing that stopped the crowd burning down his palatial residence and killing him and his wife was his semi-automatic rifle.
Then he said it: the couple feared the onslaught from the protesters was like “storming the Bastille”, the famous fortress prison whose capture by French revolutionaries in 1789 was one of the defining moments of that other tumultuous time.
Well, Mark McCloskey’s reference to the Bastille placed the couple at the heart of that narrative but, no doubt counter to his intention, cast them in the role of reactionaries holding back a righteous throng.
Certainly, it also may not help the McCloskeys as they now face investigation for their actions.
The lead prosecutor for St. Louis announced on Monday that she is examining the couple’s conduct to see if they violated the law.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns,” Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner said.
“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,” she insisted, saying her office was “currently working with the public and 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,” Gardner warned.
However, the couple’s attorney, Albert S. Watkins, claimed that the pair “acted lawfully on their property.”
The protesters were en route to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released names and addresses of residents who joined in anti-cop protests.