Couple who waved guns at St Louis protesters sue news photographer

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Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing on Wednesday 14 October 2020, in St. Louis ((Associated Press))
Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing on Wednesday 14 October 2020, in St. Louis ((Associated Press))

A St Louis couple facing felony charges for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters who marched near to their home have alleged that a photographer trespassed onto their property to capture the confrontation.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are both attorneys in their 60s, filed a lawsuit in the St Louis Circuit Court against photographer Bill Greenblatt and United Press International, who provided the photo for publications.

The McCloskeys are also suing Redbubble, an online marketplace for print-on-demand products that has carried merchandise featuring the image of the couple.

On 28 June, during Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of African American man George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police, a few hundred protesters walked onto the private street in St Louis, Missouri, where the couple’s $1.15m (£873,515m) home is located.

As the protesters walked past their home, Mr McCloskey walked outside carrying an AR-15 rifle, while Ms McCloskey held a semiautomatic handgun.

As the confrontation took place, Mr Greenblatt took a picture of the couple toting their guns at the Black Lives Matter protesters, which quickly gained national attention during a summer of protests about racial injustice.

Although photographers are allowed to take photographs on public rights of way, the couple have argued that because the street is private, the protesters and Mr Greenblatt were trespassing.

In the lawsuit, they argued that the photo led to “significant national recognition and infamy,” after the incident was covered nationally.

The couple have also argued that Mr Greenblatt, United Press International and Redbubble have profited from “t-shirts, masks, and other items, and licensing use of photographs bearing Plaintiffs’ likenesses, without obtaining Plaintiffs’ consent.”

Mr and Ms McCloskey said that merchandise on the site has often included “mocking and pejorative taglines or captions,” which has caused them “humiliation, mental anguish, and severe emotional distress.”

The couple received support from Donald Trump earlier in the year, and later spoke during the first night of the Republican National Convention in August where they complained about being charged. The couple have become heroes to some conservatives.

After the confrontation in June, the couple were arrested, and they subsequently pleaded not guilty to unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering at a hearing earlier this year.

The Independent has contacted Redbubble and United Press International for comment. 

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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