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The husband and wife who went viral for brandishing guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis, Missouri, released a statement through their lawyer saying they support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Photos and videos of Mark and Patty McCloskey spread online this week, showing the couple holding a handgun and a semiautomatic rifle as protesters marched through their gated community.

A couple pointed guns at protesters in St. Louis as a group marched toward the mayor's home to demand her resignation.

— ABC News (@ABC) June 29, 2020

The pair, both local lawyers, released a statement Monday denying they broke the law and said they support the Black Lives Matter movement. The statement also emphasized that the protesters were white.

"The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the McCloskeys," the statement read. "To the contrary, they were expecting and supportive of the message of the protesters. The actions of violence, destruction of property and acts of threatening aggression by a few individuals commingling with the peaceful protesters, gave rise to trepidation and fear of imminent and grave."

"In fact, the agitators responsible for the trepidation were white," it added.

JUST IN: St. Louis attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey release a statement, through an attorney, saying they support Black Lives Matter and they acted lawfully on their property. The couple, through their attorney, says "the agitators responsible for the trepidation were white"

— Rob Edwards (@RobertDEdwards) June 29, 2020

“The Black Lives Matter movement is here to stay, it is the right message, and it is about time,” legal counsel for the couple, Albert S. Watkins, said in the statement. “The McCloskeys want to make sure no one thinks less of BLM, its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest.”

The scene unfolded Sunday evening as the McCloskeys were reportedly eating dinner. A group of protesters came through their gated community to protest outside of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home after the mayor publicly read aloud personal information on people who advocated for defunding the local police department.

"A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought-iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home, where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear of our lives," Mark McCloskey told KMOV. "This is all private property. There are no public sidewalks or public streets. We were told that we would be killed, our home burned, and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob."

“It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through,” he said. “I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed.”

The couple reportedly called 911 when they heard the protesters and grabbed their guns for protection.

“One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said, 'You’re next.' That was the first death threat we got that night,” McCloskey said.

Rasheen Aldridge, who helped organize the protest, called “Expect Us,” told the local news outlet that no threats were made, and the protest was peaceful.

“Just like in many disobedient protests, even in the 60s, you break laws, make people feel uncomfortable. We’re not doing anything where we’re hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger,” Aldridge said.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office is investigating the situation.

"I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault. We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated," Gardner tweeted.

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Predominantly Black Armed Protesters March Through Confederate Memorial Park in Georgia

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - A predominantly Black group of heavily armed protesters marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta on Saturday, calling for removal of the giant Confederate rock carving at the site that civil rights activists consider a monument to racism.

Video footage of the Independence Day rally posted on social media showed scores of demonstrators dressed in black - many in paramilitary-style clothing and all wearing face scarves - quietly parading several abreast down a sidewalk at the park.

The protesters all carried rifles, including military-type weapons, and some wore ammunition belts slung over their shoulders. Although African Americans appeared to account for the bulk of the marchers, protesters of various races, men and women alike, were among the group.

One video clip showed a leader of the demonstrators, who was not identified, shouting into a loudspeaker in a challenge to white supremacists who historically have used Stone Mountain as a rallying spot of their own.

"I don't see no white militia," he declared. "We're here. Where ... you at? We're in your house. Let's go."

John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, said the protesters were peaceful and orderly.

"It's a public park, a state park. We have these protests on both sides of the issue from time to time. We respect people's First Amendment right," Bankhead told NBC affiliate station WXIA-TV.

"We understand the sensitivities of the issue here at the park ... so we respect that and allow them to come in as long as it's peaceful, which it has been."

Stone Mountain, which reopened for the holiday weekend following a weeks-long closure over the coronavirus, has faced renewed calls for its removal since the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Floyd's killing helped revive a long-simmering conflict between groups seeking to do away with Confederate statues and sculptures, which they see as pro-slavery symbols, and those who believe they honor the traditions and history of the Deep South.

Nine stories high and spanning the length of a football field, the bas-relief Stone Mountain sculpture carved into a granite wall overlooking the Georgia countryside some 25 miles (40 km) east of Atlanta remains the largest such monument to America's Civil War Confederacy.

It features the likenesses of Jefferson Davis, who was president of the 11-state Confederacy, and two of his legendary generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Eureka, California; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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