A St. Louis couple garnered national attention Sunday night after photos and videos of them pointing guns at a group of more than 100 protesters outside their home went viral. One brandished a semi automatic rifle and the other pointed a pistol at demonstrators on the sidewalk.
The protestors were marching to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson Sunday to demand that she resign. This came after she read the names and addresses of people who support defunding the city's police department. Photojournalist and MU graduate student Daniel Schuler posted a video of the heated confrontation to Twitter while covering the event. It went viral with more than 43,000 retweets and 16 million views. KBIA's Trevor Hook talked with Daniel about the standoff.
Daniel: We went to the the meetup spot just started shooting some photos, and there's these gated communities and they'd all been like blocked off by the police or gates had been shut. But the the front of the march eventually found one gate. Whenever everyone went through the gate, the people from the video were just like yelling at the crowd. And they all had to go through like a doorway, so I was turning around to get some photos of that. Anyway, I turn back around, the man from... who was in the backyard of the house had an AR-15 and was just kind of like, swinging it around while he was yelling at people. The woman from the house came out the front door with a pistol. She had her finger on the trigger and was just pointing it at people who were on the sidewalk while yelling at them. I felt kind of uncomfortable because the gun kept crossing into my path.
Trevor: How does the situation defuse? What happened after you took the video?
Daniel: There was like a group of protesters — kind of like organizers, kind of like leaders — and they were just kind of getting in between people and telling them like, "Keep moving down the street. Like this, this is not worth the fight. Just keep going. Everyone just needs to keep moving."
Trevor: So you you take the video, you post it... around when?
Daniel: Pretty much immediately, like I had made it a couple hundred feet down the street. I was talking to another photographer. I got a couple of likes, a couple of retweets, and I didn't think anything of it. And then a few minutes later, it was like hundreds. And then then it was thousands. And then I was like, then I could, I could barely use the Twitter app. It's spread like crazy.
Trevor: President Trump retweeted your video that was shared by ABC News. So like, it's... it got the reach of the president of the United States.
Daniel: Yeah okay, that might be the craziest part of my day. I've been awake for so long. I forgotten about that. But yeah. Did not ever expect the President to ever tweet out something that I had made.
Trevor: We're both Mizzou grad school students. I think this is something that as people who want to be journalists, or work in this industry, we all wonder what would happen if we had something that went some form of viral. How does that feel?
Daniel: I don't, I don't know how I feel about it. It's kind of like a positive experience to have like a piece of your work go that far. But at the same time, I wish I had like something more important than just like a shocking video. I would hope like some more of my work that I've done maybe with the (Columbia) Missourian or something, maybe someone will find like something more in-depth I've done in the past and look into it. I think that would be more fulfilling than just having a viral video that devolves into basically being turned into memes for people to laugh at on the internet now. The whole thing is kind of a distraction to like what's going on. Like the protest itself, why people are out actually protesting. It like shifts the focus of like the public away from what the story actually is.
An attorney for the couple says they support Black Lives Matter and its pursuit of social justice.
An extended version of the interview is available below.