Gun couple address Trump convention, highlighting cultural divide
Aug 25, 2020 - 06:27 AM
CHARLOTTE, U.S. — Were they exercising their constitutional rights, or recklessly asserting their white privilege? The couple who brandished guns at protesters and have been rewarded with speaking slots at the Republican convention embody the culture wars gripping America.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey made world headlines in late June when they pointed a semi-automatic rifle and pistol at Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully marching past their columned mansion on a private St. Louis street as part of demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice.
Video of the barefoot couple went viral, and the McCloskeys, both in their early sixties, were charged with felony unlawful use of weapons. No shots were fired and no one was injured in the incident.
The McCloskeys have became key exhibits in a tense national debate involving race and the widening socio-economic divides, and President Donald Trump has invited them to speak Monday on his party’s largely virtual convention’s opening night.
“Though the news media attempted to ‘cancel’ them, the (McCloskeys) have stood by their commitment to personal liberty and Constitutional rights,” the Trump campaign said in a statement Monday.
The decision to feature them at the convention — on the night Trump accepts his party’s nomination for the November election — has drawn both praise and revulsion.
The McCloskeys are law-abiding heroes to those who see them as die-hard supporters of 2nd Amendment gun rights defending their home against potential trespassers.
But many view them as villains — a pair of wealthy white lawyers who threatened violence against people who did not look like them.
‘We did nothing wrong’
“I thought we were going to die,” Mark McCloskey told Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior advisor to the Trump campaign, on her podcast last month. “We did nothing wrong and we’re not going to back down.”
Guilfoyle called Patricia McCloskey “inspirational” to women.
The confrontation occurred during a wave of demonstrations over police brutality and racism prompted by the killing in Minneapolis of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer.
Trump has branded himself the “law and order” president in a bid to claw back ground against Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in polling.
The president has openly warned that Biden policies on low-income housing would “destroy suburbia” — comments that Democratic Senator Cory Booker, who is black, deemed “blatantly racist.”
The McCloskeys live in the wealthy St. Louis enclave of Central West End.
The neighborhood is 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Ferguson, Missouri, the majority-black community where riots erupted in 2014 after a white policeman shot and killed 18-year-old African American Michael Brown.
The McCloskeys are known to flex their legal muscles against multiple parties.
According to a detailed report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, they have sued neighbors for altering a road, filed squatter’s rights for land they have hostilely occupied, sued relatives for defamation and destroyed bee hives placed outside their mansion by a Jewish congregation whose children were preparing to harvest the honey for Rosh Hashanah.