Yesterday The Daily Wire posted an article titled, “Police Consider Charging Crowd Confronted By Armed St. Louis Couple With Trespassing, Intimidation.”
The article reports:
A group of protesters in Missouri who famously found themselves facing an armed husband and wife may soon be facing multiple charges.
As a group of demonstrators marched toward the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home on Sunday night to demand that she resign, they marched through an area that was closed off to the public, where a husband-wife team stood outside with a rifle and a gun to protect their property.
The demonstrators had to break through a closed gate to access the gated community. At that point, they could be charged with trespassing. Some of the demonstrators were armed and issued threats to the homeowners. The incident was caught on video via a cell phone, so there is recorded evidence of the event.
The article notes:
As noted by St. Louis Today, Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, said that Mark McCloskey and his wife Patricia did not break any laws because the street where they live, Portland Place, is a private street. He added that the couple is protected by Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use deadly force to defend private property.
FindLaw explains, “This legal doctrine assumes that if an invader disrupts the sanctity of your home, they intend to do you harm and therefore you should be able to protect yourself or others against an attack. Missouri’s law is more extensive than those of other states because it allows you to use deadly force to attack an intruder to protect any private property that you own, in addition to yourself or another individual. This means that if someone illegally enters your front porch or backyard, you can use deadly force against them without retreating first.”
“At any point that you enter the property, they can then, in Missouri, use deadly force to get you off the lawn,” said Walker, adding, “There’s no right to protest on those streets. The protesters thought they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they were not allowed to be there. … It’s essentially a private estate. If anyone was violating the law, it was the protesters. In fact, if (the McCloskeys) have photos of the protesters, they could go after them for trespassing.”
The article concludes:
An attorney for the McCloskeys, Albert S. Watkins, said of his clients, who are both attorneys, “Their entire practice tenure as counsel (has) been addressing the needs of the downtrodden, for whom the fight for civil rights is necessary. My clients, as melanin-deficient human beings, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter needs to get out, especially to whites … (but) two individuals exhibited such force and violence destroying a century-plus old wrought iron gate, ripping and twisting the wrought iron that was connected to a rock foundation, and then proceeded to charge at and toward and speak threateningly to Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey.”
Laws vary from state to state, so homeowners need to be careful about the actions they take. In many states, using a gun to protect your property is not protected–you are only allowed to use a gun if you are at risk. However, I would think that if a mob with a history of burning things down approached you, you might feel that you were at risk.
This case may be one way to push back against those who are abusing the right to protest. The right to protest is protected by the Constitution. The right to loot and riot is not protected.