The rabbi who is neighbor to Mark and Patricia McCloskey speaks out: They are bullies – Forward

Posted By on August 24, 2020

When Rabbi Susan Talve heard that Patricia and Mark McCloskey would be among the speakers addressing the Republican National Convention, she decided she could no longer stay quiet.

Its so upsetting that they have a national audience, Talve said. Its upsetting we make heroes out of people who hate.

The McCloskeys are Talves neighbors. Their propertys northern wall abuts the property of St. Louis Jewish Central Reform Congregation, where Talve is the rabbi.

Image by Karen Kotner

In 2013, the synagogue placed beehives along the wall to produce honey for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. One morning they found the hives destroyed and all the bees dead. Mark McCloskey had taken an ax or sledgehammer to them.

His issue? The fence between them sat six inches inside the McCloskeys property line. The hives were his to wreck.

He could have picked up the phone and said, Hey, those beehives are on my property, and we would have happily moved them, said Talve.

She said children at the synagogue wept when they heard the news of the hives. The synagogue maintains raised bed gardens on its property that supply some 2000 pounds of fresh produce to a local food pantry, as well as pear, fig and apple trees.

We were going to have our own apples and honey for Rosh Hashana! she said.

She said the McCloskeys didnt contact the temple at all before lashing out.

Instead, McCloskey left a note threatening to sue the synagogue for damages if the shattered hives were not removed at once.

Civility, Talve said. Im willing to speak out now because theres such a lack of civility thats happening, and I dont feel like I can be a part of that, and silence is complicity.

Talve paused.

They are bullies, she said. The fact that theyre speaking at the convention is a win for bullies.

When reporter Jeremy Kohler broke the storyof the McCloskeys anti-beehive rampage in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Talve confirmed what happened but otherwise refrained from speaking out against the couple.

Image by Jewish Central Reform Con...

Mark McCloskey left this note after he destroyed bee hives owned by neighboring Jewish Central Reform Congregation

At the time, we decided not to, because it was on their property, she said. Theyre both attorneys. Theyve caused a lot of trouble for people. The advice that we got was, let it go. We live next door to these people that have guns and we have children. But every once in a while you have to speak up and say enough.

The McCloskeys made national headlines by waving guns at Black Lives Protesters who neared their mansion on tony Portland Place on the evening of June 28.

But by then they already had a long and well-documented history of litigation, threats and neighborhood feuds.

They were locked in litigation to make their neighborhood association enforce a rule against unmarried couples residing there. Talve said they only cared because a gay couple had moved into the exclusive neighborhood.

Certain people on Portland Place, for political reasons, wanted to make it a gay issue, Mark McCloskey told The Post-Dispatch.

But Talve doesnt buy it.

Any chance they have to sow division theyll take it, she said.

She said the couples actions during the evening of the Black Lives Matter march are a case in point.

The protesters were peaceful, Talve said.

She said she knew this because many members of her synagogue marched with them, and she works closely with many of the local BLM activists.

In 2017 Talves synagogue opened its doors to provide refuge for protesters when a march against police violence itself turned violent.

At the time, a trending Twitter hashtag called on the police to #GasTheSynagogue.

Talve is certain such stances did not make her congregation popular with the McCloskey or the well-armed people in the area who support them. During the June 28 march, she said BLM members stationed themselves in the parking lot and protected the synagogue from possible attack from militia-like groups.

Instead of raising up the McCloskeys as heroes, Talve said the real hero in the June 28 confrontations is St. Louis circuit attorney Kimberly Gardner, who filed charges against the couple for unlawful use of weapons and pointing firearms at protesters, which is a class E felony. President Donald Trump publicly criticized Gardner for prosecuting the McCloskeys.

These are the values that this administration has been putting forward, values that sow hate among people, said Talve. They stand for a kind of white supremacist system. Our resistance is to love each other.

The rabbi who is neighbor to Mark and Patricia McCloskey speaks out: They are bullies

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The rabbi who is neighbor to Mark and Patricia McCloskey speaks out: They are bullies - Forward

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