The Headlines

St. Louis couple who aimed guns at Black Lives Matters protesters had run-ins with a local synagogue

By Phillisa Cramer

(JTA) — Footage of the St. Louis couple brandishing guns at Black Lives Matters protesters passing in front of their mansion on a private street quickly became a symbol of white resistance to calls for racial equity.

Now, an extensive report about Patricia and Mark McCloskey’s previous clashes reveals that among their many targets has been the Reform synagogue next door. From Jeremy Kohler’s story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Mark McCloskey has run off trustees trying to make repairs to the wall surrounding his property, insisting that he and his wife own it. In 2013, he destroyed bee hives placed just outside of the mansion’s northern wall by the neighboring Jewish Central Reform Congregation and left a note saying he did it, and if the mess wasn’t cleaned up quickly he would seek a restraining order and attorneys fees. The congregation had planned to harvest the honey and pick apples from trees on its property for Rosh Hashanah.

“The children were crying in school,” Rabbi Susan Talve said. “It was part of our curriculum.”

The story includes a photo of the note threatening legal action that Mark McCloskey left after destroying the hives. McCloskey has previously sued his employer, his neighbors and his siblings, according to the story.

Central Reform Congregation has played a role in previous protests over racial injustice. In 2014, the synagogue offered itself as a sanctuary for people protesting the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black 18-year-old, in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. The extended protests in Ferguson represented a breakout moment for the then-inchoate Black Lives Matter movement. When protests erupted after an officer was acquitted of murder charges in a different case in 2017, the synagogue again offered refuge to protesters.

Main Photo: Protesters taking shelter in the Central Reform Jewish Congregation Center in St. Louis, Sept. 15, 2017. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

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