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Fame is a double-edged sword, and Mark and Patricia McCloskey just can’t seem to decide how they feel about it. Their new celebrity status stems from a viral photo of them pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters from the lawn of their St. Louis mansion in June.
On one hand, the photo landed the couple—personal injury lawyers in their 60s—an invitation to speak at the Republican National Convention, where they issued a stark warning about Democrats’ plan to “abolish the suburbs.” They’ve also turned their moment of viral fame into a greeting card and handed out signed copies of it to friends and family with captions like “Still Standing!” or “Mark and Patricia McCloskey v. The Mob,” according to the St. Louis Tribune.
On the other hand, they say the “significant national recognition and infamy” they’ve gained as a result of the photo has caused them “humiliation, mental anguish, and severe emotional distress,” according to a lawsuit they filed Monday against photo agency United Press International and photographer Bill Greenblatt, who captured the iconic moment in June, St. Louis Tribune reported. The litigation accuses him of trespassing and demanding that they transfer ownership of the image to them.
The McCloskeys have also sued RedBubble, an online marketplace that creates products like phone cases, bath mats, and mugs based on user-submitted artwork. In this instance, the couple says that RedBubble has been selling products emblazoned with their photo, often accompanied by unflattering captions.
Meanwhile, United Press International has reportedly been mulling its own “cease and desist” order against the McCloskeys for their greeting card over possible copyright violations. The photo agency said they were considering taking legal action against the couple after a protester filmed them leaving a print store with a box of the greeting cards in September.
Since their big moment in June, many right-wingers have celebrated the McCloskeys, who say they were just exercising their Second Amendment rights when they brandished their guns at protesters. (The couple later said that they support Black Lives Matter but were simply victims of a mob.) They even inspired some Halloween costumes this year: Some intended to honor the couple, while others mocked them.
The local district attorney saw the situation differently; the two were indicted last month on unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. They’ve pleaded not guilty.