OPINION: The Case For The McCloskeys And The Rule Of Law
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Back on New Years Day, when 2020 just began, none of us knew just how crazy this year would turn out to be. From an ongoing pandemic to increased racial tensions, then to citizens questioning those in power positions and how they wield their power. Today's racial protests have led to rioting, shootings, and the establishment of autonomous zones within some of our major cities. The problem is that city officials have seemingly turned a blind eye to those going beyond what is considered peaceful protest which leaves it to the citizens to defend themselves from the mob.
That was the case for Mark and Patricia McCloskey when a mob of protesters broke through a sidewalk gate into a gated community in St. Louis, Missouri, in which the McCloskeys resided, while the mob was on their way to their home, the couple took up their legally obtained firearms in self-defense against a mob that threatened to burn down or take over their house, kill them, and kill their dog. The McCloskeys went out on their property with their firearms only after they repeatedly made calls to the police to come and intervein in the situation and after the protesters came through the gate and approached the McCloskey's home, which was just on the other side of that gate as shown in the picture further down this article.
Sadly, since this situation happened, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, Kimberly Gardner, has charged the McCloskeys with a felony unlawful use of a weapon, saying in an official statement when she announced the charges that:
"It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner -- that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,"
This is where the problems begin as a felony unlawful use of a weapon under Missouri law is described as when a person:
"exhibits, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.”
This use of the law would be the case if the McCloskeys were the ones giving out the threats and the mob was the victims. But that's not the case, the McCloskeys were in the right under what is known as the Castle Doctrine. This doctrine is a self-defense law that, according to Findlaw.com, states that it:
"allows someone to use physical force when they believe it’s necessary to stop what they think is stealing, property damage, or tampering in any degree.” Missouri’s law gives individuals protecting their property more leeway compared to many states and permits the use of deadly force, without the duty to retreat, in cases where the person believes they or others are at risk of death, serious injury or other crime,"
The McCloskeys rightfully stood their ground on their property, their castle, throughout the entirety of the situation of the mob of protestors breaking into an area they were not supposed to be in. The McCloskeys also rightfully executed their 2nd Amendment right of keeping and bearing arms as well as the right to self-defense. Under the 2nd Amendment, the castle doctrine, and Stand Your Ground legislation, the McCloskey broke no law and therefore should not have been charged with a felony.
Another opinion article by The National Times Editor-at-Large, Andrew Fieden, goes over why the right to stand your ground should be federal law. Stand Your Ground legislation would apply in the incident with the McCloskeys as it allows citizens to respond with force when presented with a threat or when there is a reasonable perception of harm. The McCloskeys were presented with a threat and a responsible perception of harm from the mob. This incident is one of many reasons why we need such legislation in all 50 states through federal legislation.
But on another note, those individuals who broke into the gated community that the McCloskeys live in should be the ones receiving charges from the Circuit Attorney. To start with, there is a sign that clearly states where they broke in was a private street and that access to that street is limited to the residents of that gated community. The picture below shows the sign as well as the McCloskeys house in the background.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
The so-called, "peacefully protestors" turned unpeaceful when they broke the law to enter into the gated community by trespassing since they were not residents of that community. Plus the sidewalk that they claimed is public property is not public property. The McCloskeys and the other families that live in that community pay their Home Owners Association, (HOA) to maintain the roads and sidewalks as a collective of all the homeowners in the community. All of those homeowners partially own the streets and the sidewalk, or also known as the common areas, within their gated community since they collectively pay for projects that happen on them. As stated in Gated Streets and House Prices by Michael LaCour-Little and Stephen Malpezzi about those projects within gated communities:
"Regular, and occasionally special, assessments are imposed on property owners to fund the maintenance of common areas. Services are typically contracted with municipal providers outside of the gated area. Supplemental private security is often contracted as well. At the cost, residents gain control of the streets in their neighborhood and can restrict access,
With that in mind, the street and sidewalk in which the protestors flooded after they entered the gate, was indeed a private property that they did not have the right or permission to be on. This is the case because McCloskeys pay to their HOA so that way those common areas in the gated community remain private and off-limits to those who do not reside there.
The rightful rule of law would then have it that the McCloskeys were in the right and the protestors were in the wrong. Therefore if the McCloskeys do end up getting wrongfully convicted of the unjust felony Kim Gardner charged them with, they should quickly be pardoned by either the Missouri governor or by President Trump since those charges are unjust. Let's hope that true justice is served in this case.
Nicholas L. Farrow is an Opinion Contributor for The National Times