US couple who pointed guns at BLM protesters 'to speak at Republican convention'

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Media caption,
Watch as Missouri couple point guns at protesters

A husband and wife who pointed guns at racial justice protesters in the US will reportedly appear at the Republican Party convention this month.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are both lawyers, were filmed brandishing weapons as demonstrators marched along their private Missouri street in June.

They gained national prominence after the clip was widely shared, and were later charged over the incident.

The couple said they armed themselves because they felt threatened.

The scaled-down event is due to take place between 24 and 27 August in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But Patricia McCloskey is not expected to speak. "She will be at her husband's side," the lawyer, Albert Watkins, said.

The RNC will be attended by several hundred delegates who will cast proxy votes for thousands of others and formally re-nominate Donald Trump as the party's candidate for the presidential election in November.

The McCloskeys will reportedly express their support for Mr Trump as part of a live video presentation at the event. Much of this year's RNC will be live-streamed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers of the convention have not publicly confirmed US media reports of the appearance and the schedule has not yet been published.

What did the McCloskeys do?

Video footage showed Mr McCloskey, 63, and his wife, 61, draw guns as Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched past their $1.15m (£873,000) mansion in St Louis on 28 June.

The protesters were heading to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson to call for her resignation, after she infuriated activists by reading out the names and addresses of people advocating defunding the police during a Facebook Live broadcast.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside the couple's home following the incident

The couple, both personal injury attorneys, have said they were within their rights to defend their property.

According to a police report on the incident, the McCloskeys said a large group of people had broken through an iron gate marked with "No Trespassing" and "Private Street" signs.

"When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police," the report says.

The march was part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations over police brutality and racism prompted by the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a white policeman.

Media caption,
Four numbers that explain the impact of George Floyd's death on US society

The couple were later charged with the unlawful use of a weapon, a Class E felony that can carry a prison sentence of up to four years.

"It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in non-violent protest," Kim Gardner, St Louis' first black circuit attorney, said at the time.

But the state's Attorney General Eric Schmitt later said that he was moving to dismiss the charges, which he described as a "political prosecution" that would have "a chilling effect on Missourians' exercising the right to self-defence".

"I was a person scared for my life," he said.

The couple have previously appeared at a virtual Trump campaign event. The president has also spoken out in their defence, earlier telling the conservative news website Townhall that prosecuting them would be "a disgrace".

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