Over the last month, social media has been continually flooded with viral videos of white people acting like absolute clowns. The Karens have popped up in numerous situations, from threatening innocent Black people at public parks to screaming in coffee shops and grocery stores when asked to wear masks. But this weekend, viral Karendom took its most sinister form yet, when a St. Louis couple was filmed aiming guns at protestors marching peacefully past their home.
The protestors were marching to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, where they demanded her resignation. Krewson, who became the city’s first female mayor in 2017, has come under fire for her weak responses to the protests against police brutality, and things have gotten worse in recent days. In a Facebook Live video on Friday, Krewson read from letters that she has received asking her to defund the police, and included the names and addresses of those who wrote the letters. The video was taken down later that night, and Krewson apologized, saying she “did not intend to cause distress or harm to anyone.”
While Krewson didn’t do anything illegal, information like this is usually only made public through a formal request, and the Mayor has received harsh criticism for the unnecessary breach of privacy. A petition calling for Mayor Krewson to resign has received nearly 50,000 signatures, and over the weekend, St. Louisans marched to her house to express their anger in person. At the protest, Congressional candidate Cori Bush spoke on the potential harm that Krewson caused: “When you are an activist and you speak up against police brutality, there are days you are stalked, followed, harassed… the mayor just said it’s okay.”
Mayor Krewson lives in St. Louis’ affluent Central West End neighborhood, and not all the residents were happy to see people marching in their streets. Enter Mark and Patricia McCloskey, or as the internet is calling them, Ken and Karen. As hundreds of demonstrators marched past their home, they stood on the lawn and aimed guns at the crowd, shouting about getting off of private property. Protestors told them to “calm down” and “call the f*cking cops” if they were so scared, and naturally, Ken and Karen did just that. Of course, they were caught on video, and quickly went viral for their antics.
here’s what happens when you march on Portland Place in St. Louis, MO
they’re scared of their own community pic.twitter.com/Ng8qW1Pa6C
— avery (@averyrisch) June 29, 2020
According to the St. Louis Police Department, the McCloskeys heard a “commotion” outside their home, and when they went to see what was happening, they saw protestors “forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.” Speaking to St. Louis CBS affiliate News 4, Mark McCloskey (aka Ken) said “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.” After that, the police say, “The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims,” and “When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
Is all of this true? Not that I don’t trust the police or anything, but this video of the incident literally shows the protestors walking through the already-open gate.
Police say they are currently investigating the incident as a case of “trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation.” Okay, so the protestors might be in trouble, but what about the people waving guns around on camera? Asked whether Ken and Karen did anything illegal in this situation, a police spokesperson said to “ask the courts”. Speaking of the courts, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner tweeted that her office is investigating the incident, noting that “any attempt to chill [the right to peacefully protest] through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”
1/ I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors 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.
— Kimberly Gardner (@StLouisCityCA) June 29, 2020
Basically, there’s a lot of investigating going on here, and who knows what will happen. But the image of two white people guarding their mansion with guns while Black people are just asking not to be killed in the streets is eerily symbolic.
Images: sean badock / Shutterstock.com; averyrisch / Twitter; Leonitix / YouTube