Missouri governor hints at pardon if probe is launched into couple who aimed guns at Black protesters
A white St. Louis couple who threatened anti-racism protesters at gunpoint hasn't even been charged yet, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is already eyeing a pardon, according to The Associated Press. Viral video showed Mark McCloskey, joined by his armed wife Patricia, pointing an assault rifle at protesters who stopped at the couple's home in search of the St. Louis mayor's home last month.
After Democratic Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation into the couple, Parson said during an interview Friday on the Marc Cox Morning Show that a pardon is "exactly what would happen." "(...) I don't think they're going to spend any time in jail," he added.
The McCloskeys accused protesters of ignoring a “No Trespassing” sign to knock down their gate, but a protest organizer has said the gate was already open, the AP reported. Parson said the McCloskeys seem to be protected under the “castle doctrine,” which allows homeowners in Missouri to use lethal force to protect their residences. "Right now that's what I feel, you know. You don't know until you hear all the facts and all that, but right now if this is all about going after them because they did a lawful act than yeah,” the governor said.
Parson accused Gardner, St. Louis' first Black top prosecutor, of distrusting police and said she “needs to do her job.” "She's missing the whole point of her oath," Parson said. "It's about the victims. It's not about the police officers."
A progressive prosecutor vowing to focus less on low-level crimes, Gardner said as a result of her probe into the McCloskeys, she’s been the target of racist threats she likens to the Ku Klux Klan’s 19th and 20th centuries practice of terrorizing Black neighborhoods. “This is a modern-day night ride, and everybody knows it,” she told The Washington Post. She said President Donald Trump’s support of the couple “is scary.”
Trump said on July 14 the couple was probably going to be "beat up badly if they were lucky" and their house was going to be "ransacked and probably burned down.” “And now I understand somebody local they want to prosecute these people. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said.
Gardner has been a repeat target for Missouri Republicans clinging to Trump’s racist dog whistles. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley asked the Justice Department Thursday to investigate her after she announced her investigation into the McCloskeys, The Washington Post reported. “I urge you to consider a federal civil rights investigation into the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office to determine whether this investigation and impending prosecution violates this family’s constitutional right,” Hawley reportedly wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
Gardner called Hawley's request “a dog whistle of racist rhetoric and cronyism politics.” “Senator Hawley, who believes in the Constitution, is usurping the will of the voters. I thought the Republican Party was all about states’ rights and local control. What happened?” she asked.
Gardner filed a lawsuit against the city earlier this year relying on the Ku Klux Klan Act in 1871, which was intended to aid in the "crack down on vigilante groups," The Washington Post reported. “Sadly, the City of St. Louis has a long history of racial inequality and prejudice in its criminal justice system generally, and within its police force particularly,” she said in the lawsuit. “It is no slight to the dedication of hundreds of thousands of fine police officers nationwide to note that there are far too many tragic cases of lawless police misconduct with far too little accountability.”