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Pa. town blocks Republican rally featuring gun-toting St. Louis couple, citing COVID-19 restrictions

The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) — By Andrew Wagaman The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Sept. 11-- ALLENTOWN, Pa.-A Pennsylvania town has nixed a planned political gathering Thursday featuring the Missouri couple who made national headlines this summer when they waved guns at protesters walking by their property.

According to a post on Palmer Township's Facebook page Friday afternoon, the town denied a request to hold the event at Fairview Park because it will draw more than 250 people, violating Gov. Tom Wolf's cap on gatherings. The township, about 20 miles northeast of Allentown, also says it is unable to "allocate public resources to monitor and ensure compliance with the current public health safety mandates for the proposed event."

The denial is "in the interests of public health safety," the post states.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey of St. Louis were set to "do a rally event to wake up suburban voters about the Second Amendment, individual rights and defending your life and property," Northampton County Republican Committee Chairperson Gloria Lee Snover said Wednesday. The county Republican Committee and the campaign to reelect President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were co-sponsoring the visit.

Snover wasn't immediately available to comment Friday.

On June 28, Mark McCloskey, 63, held a semi-automatic rifle and Patty McCloskey, 61, displayed a handgun while standing on their property after Black Lives Matter protesters, who were calling for police reform, marched past an iron gate and onto their private street.

Amid nationwide protests after the May 25 death of Black Minnesota resident George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, the marchers were demanding the resignation of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson for reading aloud via livestream the names of protesters who were urging her to defund the St. Louis Police Department. Krewson later apologized for doing so, though she noted the names and addresses were public information.

The McCloskeys aimed their guns at the passing marchers, and Mark McCloskey told them to leave. No shots were fired.

The McCloskeys said the protesters knocked down an iron gate and ignored a "No Trespassing" sign. Protest leaders said the gate was open and the demonstration was peaceful, The Associated Press reported.

The couple was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, and has since spoken in support of President Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. In the address, they said they had a "God-given right" to defend themselves and their property.

The couple, both lawyers, warned of unchecked lawlessness and suburban decay if such rights were to be trimmed, AP reported.

"We have a God-given right to defend ourselves, and the right of self-defense is one of the most basic civil rights, one of the most basic human rights," Mark McCloskey said in the address.

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