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Missouri governor pardons couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters

Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Tuesday pardoned Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who were seen in a viral photograph waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June 2020. The couple pleaded guilty to misdemeanor gun charges in June, although Mark McCloskey announced in May that he would be running for U.S. Senate

Parson issued 12 pardons and two commutations on Tuesday, including the McCloskeys. 

According to CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV, Patricia McCloskey had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000. Her husband, Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was fined $750. They had also agreed to give up the weapons they used during the incident.  

The McCloskeys, both lawyers in their 60s, were unapologetic after pleading guilty. "I'd do it again," Mark McCloskey said outside the courthouse, according to KMOV. 

"It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening matter at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis," said Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner when announcing the charges. "We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated."

The McCloskeys became heroes among many conservatives after they said they felt threatened by the protesters, who on June 28 were marching through St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood toward the mayor's home to demand her resignation amid nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality. The couple even had primetime speaking slots at the Republican National Convention in 2020.

Mark McCloskey told KMOV in July 2020 that he and his wife, who are both lawyers, were facing an "angry mob" on their private street and feared for their lives.   

"It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through," Mark McCloskey said at the time. "I was terrified that we'd be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed."

A special prosecutor said his investigation found no evidence that any of the protesters had weapons, according to KMOV.   

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