Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday pardoned Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white St. Louis couple who in June had pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for waving their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters.
Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to assault in the fourth degree and Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to harassment in the second degree under a plea agreement with a special prosecutor. At the time, the special prosecutor noted that the protesters who walked past the McCloskeys' mansion were peaceful — in spite of the couple's claims that they felt threatened.
Parson has planned to pardon the couple for a while now, telling Sean Hannity on Fox News last year that the McCloskeys had every right to protect themselves.
"I'll do everything within the Constitution of the State of Missouri to protect law-abiding citizens and those people are exactly that," Parson said. He went on to say the McCloskeys were "being attacked by a political process" and it was a "sad day" for Missouri.
Photos of the McCloskeys holding their weapons as the peaceful crowd passed drew national headlines in June 2020, and the couple went on a conservative press tour. They were featured speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention, and Mark McCloskey has gone on to launch a campaign for Senate, prominently featuring the photos on his campaign website.
On Tuesday, attorney Joel Schwartz, who represents the McCloskeys, told BuzzFeed News the couple was "thrilled" by the pardon and felt vindicated.
"They are looking forward to putting this episode of this life behind them and focusing on Mark’s campaign for the US Senate," he said. "Mark has publicly stated that if faced with the same situation, he would do exactly the same thing he did."
After their guilty pleas, the couple was ordered to pay fines of $750 and $2,000 and hand over their weapons to state officials to be destroyed.
A plea deal, which dropped felony charges, was made because of the couple's lack of criminal record, the fact they called the police before pointing their guns at the protesters, and because shots weren't fired, the prosecutor said at the time.
The protesters were a peaceful group, who accidentally ended up on private property, according to a statement from Richard Callahan, the case's special prosecutor.
"There was no evidence that any of them had a weapon and no one I interviewed realized they had ventured into a private enclave," the prosecutor said.