Republican members of Congress on Thursday demanded that the Justice Department investigate “rogue prosecutors,” including the prosecutor leading the case against the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters outside their house last month.
“Criminals should live in fear of prosecution, not innocent Americans defending themselves, their families, and their property,” read a letter to Attorney General William Barr from 17 Republican congressmen led by Representative Jodey Arrington of Texas. “The prosecuting attorney’s actions appear to be driven more by an antigun, not anticrime, agenda.”
In a June 28 incident that was caught on video, Mark and Patricia McCloskey pointed guns at protesters outside after the crowd entered a private gated community on their way to St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson’s residence to demand her resignation.
The couple, both personal injury lawyers, stood outside their home on Portland Place, a private street, as hundreds of protesters, some of them armed, marched by and chanted. The McCloskeys had been inside their house when they heard loud activity outside and saw “a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs,” St. Louis police said.
The couple was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
“We urge you and the Department of Justice to investigate Ms. Gardner’s actions and the actions of every rogue prosecutor who fails to uphold the rule of law and secure the rights of our citizens,” the lawmakers urged in their letter to the attorney general.
The purpose of the letter is to “stop rogue prosecutors who are trampling the constitutional rights” of citizens and ensure other local prosecutors do not “copycat” Gardner and cause a “more pervasive problem with this because of politically motivated local elected leaders who want to advance either their personal or political agenda,” Arrington said in an interview with National Review.
“Let’s nip it in the bud and not have a pervasive chain reaction which would create more fear on the part of law-abiding citizens,” the Texas Republican continued. “It would also embolden the bad guys, the criminals and the thugs that have hijacked peaceful protests, who have a singular focus, and that’s to sow chaos in our communities and fear in the hearts of our fellow Americans.”
Arrington added that one way to hold prosecutors accountable would be to defund them, and another might be professional sanctions within the St. Louis Bar Association.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the investigation, but on its face it looks like an egregious abuse of power by someone who clearly has a history of anti-gun policies in politics,” he said.
Arrington added that while he is “very sensitive” to the federal government intervening in state and local matters, “the constitutional rights of citizens being trampled by those who are supposed to enforce the law and secure those rights at a state and local level is a matter of federal jurisdiction.”
“We’ve seen what happens in these cities where local leaders tolerate this,” he said. “Whatever you tolerate, you will get more of it. We need to make sure within the federal jurisdiction … that we send a message to law-abiding citizens that your government has your back in terms of securing those fundamental rights.”