On June 28, 2020, video and photographs showed rifle-wielding Mark McCloskey and pistol-toting Patricia McCloskey in front of their mansion as protesters marched through their gated community to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) amid nationwide protests after a police officer killed George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The images garnered national attention, prompting President Donald Trump to speak out in defense of the couple. Trump and other Republicans considered the McCloskeys law-abiding homeowners defending their property. Others saw the couple as overly aggressive toward demonstrators.
The couple, both personal injury attorneys in their 60s, faced felony firearm charges after the display in front of their marble-faced palazzo home but ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Representatives for the governor did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.
The McCloskeys said in a statement that they appreciated Parson’s “support and his steadfast commitment to the 2nd Amendment.”
“As many of you know, Patty and I faced political prosecution for having the audacity to defend our lives and property from an angry mob,” Mark McCloskey wrote in the statement. “Today we are incredibly thankful that Governor Mike Parson righted this wrong and granted us pardons.”
Parson, a month after the confrontation, told local radio station KFTK he would pardon the couple if they were convicted.
“By all means, I would, and I think that’s exactly what would happen,” he said, adding that he first wanted to hear “all the facts.”
He reiterated his promise at a news conference months later: “We’ll let it play out and see how this all comes out in the courts, but I stand by what I said.”
Mark McCloskey announced in May that he would run for one of Missouri’s U.S. Senate seats, using the images from that tense faceoff with protesters in his campaign ads. The couple appeared at the Republican National Convention last August.
Parson has been working through a backlog of clemency requests for months, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previously reported.
Among those imprisoned whom Parson did not pardon were Kevin Strickland and Lamar Johnson, Black men who prosecutors say were wrongfully convicted.
Johnson is serving a life sentence after a 1995 murder conviction that prosecutors say was the result of misconduct and fabrications from prosecutors and police. Strickland, convicted of murder, also faces life in prison, despite the key witness recanting her statement, KCUR reported.
Critics of Parson’s decision to pardon the McCloskeys compared the cases, arguing that the men stuck behind bars should have been prioritized over a couple who faced no jail time.
“The contrast between the governor’s treatment of these cases should offend every Missourian’s sense of justice,” state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D) said in a statement. “It also proves the governor doesn’t have one.”
“Missouri’s racist criminal justice system put two innocent black men (Kevin Strickland & Lamar Johnson) in prison, but the Gov chose to ignore them,” tweeted the Ethical Society of Police, an association founded by Black police officers in St. Louis.