Mark McCloskey’s star rose quickly in the Republican Party after he and his wife pointed guns at racial justice protesters marching through their gated St. Louis neighborhood last summer — even as the couple was each hit with a felony weapons charge over the incident.
Now, nearly a year after video of the tense faceoff with protesters went viral, McCloskey, 64, has announced plans to run for the Senate.
On Tuesday, McCloskey told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he would seek to replace Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who is retiring and will not run for reelection in 2022.
“God came knocking on my door disguised as an angry mob,” McCloskey said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “If we don’t stand up now and take this country back, it’s going away.”
McCloskey, an attorney in St. Louis, also slammed President Biden over “socialist” policies that provided coronavirus aid to people who lost their jobs or encountered financial hardship during the pandemic. He echoed a popular conservative argument that increased unemployment payments have prevented people from returning to work, a claim that Democrats and some studies have disputed.
In a dramatic political ad that McCloskey posted on Twitter late Tuesday, he cast himself as a “defender.”
“An angry mob marched to destroy my home and kill my family. I took a stand to defend them,” he said in the ad. “I am a proven fighter against the mob.”
Despite McCloskey’s repeated claims that he feared for his life and believed the protesters intended to harm his home during the march on June 28, video suggested that the crowd merely passed through an open gate on their way to the mayor’s home to stage a peaceful demonstration.
In the wake of the incident, McCloskey and his wife, Patricia, have faced criminal charges, disdain from their neighbors and close scrutiny of their past bouts with the law.
Both McCloskeys were charged in July with felony weapons charges and in October for evidence tampering, for allegedly altering one of the guns they waved at protesters. Their criminal trial is set to start on Nov. 1.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) vowed in October to pardon the McCloskeys if they are convicted.
As much political support as the McCloskeys found among conservatives, they also faced harsh local backlash. Thirty-eight nearby neighbors criticized the couple’s attempts to intimidate racial justice protesters in an open letter.
“We condemn the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest,” wrote residents of Westmoreland Place, the street next to the McCloskey’s.
Meanwhile, local media described the couple’s lengthy track record of settling scores in civil court. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described the McCloskeys as “nearly constantly” suing people over control of their private property. They sued to obtain ownership of their house, to battle neighbors over changes to a gravel drive, and to evict tenants from a home on their land.
Neither the criminal charges nor the public backlash has quashed Mark McCloskey’s political aspirations.
His first campaign ad prominently featured photos that showed the moments when he and his wife pointed guns at protesters outside their elaborately restored mansion. It also showed McCloskey petting a dog, stroking a horse, and walking near a metal shed. He juxtaposed the idyllic farmland images with footage of a condemned brick house captioned with the words, “The Future of America.”
“When the mob comes to destroy our home, our state, our nation — I’ll defend it,” he said. “I will never back down.”
Police reform in America
Repeated police misconduct: More than $1.5 billion has been spent to settle claims of police misconduct involving thousands of officers repeatedly accused of wrongdoing. Taxpayers are often in the dark.
Listen: “Broken Doors” is a six-part investigative podcast about how no-knock warrants are deployed in the American justice system — and what happens when accountability is flawed at every level.
Fatal Force: Since 2015, The Washington Post has logged every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. View our police shooting database.
Fired/Rehired: Police departments have had to take back hundreds of officers who were fired for misconduct and then rehired after arbitration.
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