LOWER SAUCON TWP., Pa. (WLVT) - Despite a change of venue, Mark and Patricia McCloskey still made their way to the Lehigh Valley to speak.
The Northampton County Republican Committee rented a pavilion at Town Hall Park to host the Missouri couple who gained fame in June while standing outside their home with guns drawn as Black Lives Matter protesters marched by.
An estimated 200-plus people showed up Thursday night to to listen to their story and their support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The event was originally planned for a park in Palmer Township but the township denied a permit fearing the number of people would surpass Pennsylvania's 250-person limit for outdoor gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dan Mizack, of Easton, was among those who came to Lower Saucon.
“I want to see what took place prosecuting these people, and their rights were violated. And how do you protect yourself?” he said.
Organizers said the event was closed to the press but it was held in public park that gave ample views of the pavilion.
That led to some tense moments as people who were there for the speech confronted journalists watching and recording from a distance. Some of the supporters tried to block media cameras by standing in front of them.
Lee Snover, who heads the county Republican committee, said she was pleased with the turnout.
She said neither the committee nor the McCloskeys wanted it closed to the press, but that was a decision made by the Trump-Pence Pennsylvania campaign. She also said she was unaware of any encounters between supporters and the media.
After video of the McCloskeys brandishing weapons at protesters who broke through their gated community went viral, the couple were invited to speak last month at the Republican National Convention.
Snover said she believed fewer than 250 people attended the park rally. She said the couple likely could have drawn a crowd more than double that size had the committee wanted. After Palmer Township's denial, the county GOP did not publicize the Lower Saucon event.
Any controversy may not be over yet.
Lower Saucon Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon, a Democrat, says organizers may have violated several conditions of the permit issued to use the pavilion, including displaying signs or banners of a political nature.
She said she expects to raise the issue at the next township council meeting.
Township Councilman Jason Banonis is listed as vice president of the county Republicans.