A Missouri couple facing felony charges after they were seen in viral videos and images pointing guns at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis in June are suing the news photographer who captured the images. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who work together as personal injury lawyers, filed a lawsuit Friday in St. Louis Circuit Court against United Press International (UPI) photographer Bill Greenblatt accusing him of trespassing to take the viral photo.
According to the lawsuit, which was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and also names the San Francisco-based online marketplace Redbubble Inc., Greenblatt trespassed on their property to capture the image. Located in the upscale Central West End neighborhood, the couple's home is on a private street, and they have argued that protesters trespassed on their march to Mayor Lyda Krewson's home. Newspaper photographers are allowed to capture images from public rights of way.
The McCloskeys say that the image Greenblatt captured, showing Mark wielding an AR-15 rifle and Patricia holding a semiautomatic handgun, has contributed to their "significant national recognition and infamy." The couple has accused Greenblatt, UPI, and Redbubble of having profited from "t-shirts, masks, and other items, and licensing use of photographs bearing Plaintiffs' likenesses, without obtaining Plaintiffs' consent." The couple state that their image on Redbubble merchandise is often "accompanied with 'mocking and pejorative taglines or captions,' causing them 'humiliation, mental anguish, and severe emotional distress.'" As a result of the image and the attention it has received, the McCloskeys have received death threats and additional protesters have come to their property, according to the suit.
"Defendants acted outrageously and beyond all reasonable bounds of decency, with their conduct regarded as atrocious and intolerable by any member of a civilized society," they wrote in the lawsuit. The McCloskeys are seeking damages and asking the court to bar the use of the photo and to transfer ownership of the photo to them.
The lawsuit comes just after it was reported that UPI was considering a copyright infringement cease and desist order against the couple because they have been using the image in a personal greeting card. According to Greenblatt, who spoke to NewsRadio 1120, the McCloskeys did not obtain permission to use the photo. He sent the couple an invoice of $1,500, noting on the bill, "I am in the business of selling images. I do not give them away for free."