The Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson (R), suggested on Friday that he would pardon a St. Louis couple if charges were filed against them for brandishing firearms outside of their home at a group of protesters.
Speaking on “The Marc Cox Morning Show” on 97.1 FM in St. Louis, Parson was asked about an investigation circuit attorney Kim Gardner launched into Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who were seen in footage that was shared widely from June, holding and pointing firearms at a group of protesters who were walking down their street as part of a demonstration. The couple told St. Louis police that the protesters trespassed on a private street and that they were “in fear for [their] lives.” A protest leader has disputed their claims, saying that the gate to the street was open and that demonstrators were peaceful.
The couple claimed in a police report that they had felt threatened by the demonstrators and feared that they would assault them or destroy their property. But Gardner said that she would look into the events, noting at the outset of her probe that “we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Parson strongly pushed back against the impetus for the investigation, saying that the McCloskeys “did what they legally should do.” Stating further, “A mob does not have the right to charge your property. They had every right to protect themselves.”
When he was asked if he would consider pardoning charges if they were filed, Parsons said, “I think that’s exactly what would happen. Right now, that’s what I feel,” he said. “You don’t know until you hear all the facts. But right now, if this is all about going after them for doing a lawful act, then yeah, if that scenario ever happened, I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail.”
In a later Twitter post, linking to his previous comments, Parsons tweeted, “We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights.”
Gardner’s investigation of the events has attracted intense criticism from Republican officials, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and President Trump. In an interview last week, Trump claimed that the investigation was a “disgrace” and that the couple had the right to protect their property. Parsons has also noted that he’s discussed the matter with Trump and ways the president could potentially intervene.
In addition, Hawley called on the Justice Department to launch a civil rights probe into Gardner’s office to determine whether her investigation of the McCloskeys violates their “constitutional right.”
Gardner has dismissed the criticism she’s received from Trump and Parsons. She said in a statement on Thursday that “while they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so.”
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