Couple Who Pointed Guns at Protesters Sues Photographer Who Captured Them in the Act

Couple Who Pointed Guns at Protesters Sues Photographer Who Captured Them in the Act
Screenshot: Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee, Getty Images

In a delightful act of copyright justice, Mark and Patricia McCloskey — the personal injury attorneys who became infamous for aiming firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters this summer from their castle mansion’s pristine lawn — have reportedly been sent a $US1,500 ($2,056) bill for attempting to profit off one of the photos of that incident. Of course this can’t possibly have a simple, happy ending.

“It has been brought to my attention that one of my images of you during the June 28, 2020 event at your home, is now serving as a Christmas card,” William Greenblatt, a photographer with the United Press International newswire, wrote to the couple in an invoicing letter. He mentions additionally that the McCloskeys’ former attorney, Al Watkins, suggested that Greenblatt send the invoice, which, if true: lol. The greeting cards, which again, depict the couple pointing firearms at peaceful protesters in a manner totally incompatible with safe gun ownership practices, were apparently being autographed and sold by the McCloskeys.

Mark McCloskey posted Greenblatt’s letter on Facebook and wrote, “the photographer that trespassed into my neighbourhood and stole a photo of us has sent us a bill!!!!!” Which of course is not how photography works. Outside of Greenblatt’s cheeky letter, UPI itself also sent the couple a cease and desist (the text of which, sadly, has not yet been made public.)

Being second amendment heroes or national villains, depending which news outlet you’re watching, the McCloskeys counterattacked last week with an upwards-of-$US100,000 ($137,040) lawsuit for alleged trespassing, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress against not only Greenblatt, but UPI, and print-your-own merch company Redbubble.

The battle again revolves around the McCloskeys’ disputed allegation of trespassing; in recent months, they’ve fashioned themselves as celebrity advocates for self-defence, earning themselves a spot at the RNC this year. (Mark refers to the protesters as an “out-of-control mob.”) They have maintained that protesters broke into their private street (in Mark’s words, “smashed down” the gate), and justified their threats against the protesters as legal under Missouri’s castle doctrine. Photos clearly show Patricia McCloskey in a shooting stance with her finger on the trigger. The suit accuses Greenblatt and UPI of trespassing, and all three defendants of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. OK.

For each count, the couple asks for over $US25,000 ($34,260) in damages.

Without commenting on the specific merit of the McCloskeys’ lawsuit, it’s almost certain litigating their claims will cost more than the $US1,500 ($2,056) requested in the first place. The legal system: it just works!

In September, authorities declined to press charges against the nine protesters, but they indicted the McCloskeys last month with a felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon, and a misdemeanour charge of tampering with a weapon. Missouri governor Mike Parson has pledged to pardon the couple if they’re convicted.

Greenblatt declined to comment, and Mr. Watkins was not immediately available to comment. Gizmodo has reached out to UPI, Redbubble, and attorneys for the McCloskeys and will update the post if we hear back. We will not include the photo, but you can see it here in their filing.