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A husband and wife have been charged with unlawful use of a weapon for pointing guns at demonstrators outside their home in St Louis, Missouri.
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The couple said they armed themselves because they felt threatened. But St Louis' top prosecutor said their actions had risked creating violence at an otherwise peaceful protest. The McCloskeys also face a charge of fourth-degree assault.
The couple's lawyer, Joel Schwartz, called the decision to press charges "disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed". The couple, both personal injury attorneys who live on a private street, have said they were within their rights to defend their property.
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Missouri Governor Mike Parson has said he was prepared to exercise his pardon powers if prosecutors brought criminal charges in the case. When he was a legislator, the governor co-wrote Missouri's "castle doctrine" law that justifies deadly force for those who are defending their homes from intruders.
On Friday, the couple made an appearance at a virtual Trump campaign event. Earlier, Mr Trump told the conservative news website Townhall: "They want to prosecute these people, it's a disgrace.
Video footage showed Mr McCloskey, 63, and his wife, 61, draw firearms as demonstrators marched past their mansion to the home of St Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to call for her reation on 28 June. The mayor had infuriated activists by reading out on Facebook Live the names and addresses of people advocating defunding the police.
The McCloskeys' legal team has said two or three white protesters had threatened the couple and their property.
According to a police report on the incident, the couple said a large group of people had broken through an iron gate marked with "No Trespassing" and "Private Street" s. One of the protest leaders maintained the gate was already open. 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.
Ms Gardner is recommending that the husband and wife participate in a "diversion programme" deed to reduce unnecessary involvement with the courts. It could see them ordered to take part in community service or a remedial course.
Class E felonies like unlawful use of a weapon can carry prison sentences of up to four years. Missouri couple points guns at protesters.
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Missouri United States. More on this story.
Published 30 June Published 5 August Published 5 June Published 8 April.