President Donald Trump shared a tweet on Monday morning of a white St. Louis couple brandishing and pointing their guns in the direction of protesters against anti-Black racism and police violence who were marching toward the mayor’s office.
While it’s unclear what Trump intended by sharing the post, his past statements against demonstrators who are part of the Movement for Black Lives have prompted news agencies to suggest the president was likely retweeting the video in support of the display of weapons against protesters.
If that is indeed the case, the president could be endorsing an illegal action. According to Missouri state law, it is illegal to exhibit, “in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.”
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The 30-second video shows a white man holding an assault rifle and a white woman holding a handgun. Both appear to point their weapons at participants in a racial justice protest walking by their home, with video the tweet Trump shared (via ABC News) showing the man involved yelling at the demonstrators.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 29, 2020
According to witnesses present and other new reports, the couple featured in the video appear to be Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who together own a personal injury law firm in St. Louis. The two purchased and restored the home shown in the background of the video in 1988.
Protesters walking past the couple’s home on Sunday were en route to the office of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, who recently shared in a video message the names and addresses of individuals in the city who wrote to her urging for the defunding of the police department, a method of intimidation that is known as “doxxing.”
Krewson has since apologized for the action, but many are still calling for her resignation over the incident. A petition asking for her to step down has since received around 45,000 signatures.
Trump’s seeming endorsement of these two individuals’ actions is the second social media post in as many days the president has made in which he appeared to support violence against protesters. A video Trump tweeted out on Sunday showed one of his supporters yelling “white power” toward a demonstrator who was protesting against the president.
“Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” Trump wrote in his tweet accompanying the video, referencing the retirement community in Florida where the protest occurred.
Trump later deleted the tweet amid uproar from others on social media, including from members of his own party. White House spokesman Judd Deere explained that Trump hadn’t heard the statement in question, even though it happened toward the beginning of the video.
The administration wouldn’t comment on whether Trump condemned the statement from the man in the video, according to reporting from The Associated Press.