SPONSORED:

Woman files lawsuit against Michigan county official who flashed rifle at her during virtual meeting

A 74-year-old Michigan woman filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against a county commissioner who flashed a rifle at her during a virtual public meeting when she asked the group to condemn the Proud Boys.

East Bay Township resident Keli MacIntosh asked the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 20 to make "some sort of a public statement" denouncing the far-right group in the wake of the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol. 

Many members of the Proud Boys have since been arrested and charged in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 siege, which left five people dead.

ADVERTISEMENT

MacIntosh asked the board to make a statement against the “violent and threatening behavior of known violent groups” following the Capitol riot and the foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerDetroit police chief planning GOP gubernatorial run against Whitmer More than half of Michigan adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose Michigan Senate votes to exempt high school graduations from crowd restrictions MORE (D), according to the lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press.

"I mean, you can say that we don't have [a] problem with Proud Boys around our area, but there are obviously problem Proud Boys around the country causing problems," MacIntosh said during the hearing as commission Vice Chairman Ron Clous stepped out of view of the screen.

MacIntosh explained that while she's not a gun owner, she can "definitely appreciate people's wanting to have their gun rights protected," but added that groups like the Proud Boys have been given permission "to do more with their guns than go out hunting."

As she speaks, a smiling Clous is shown stepping back into the frame holding a rifle. 

Clous had reportedly welcomed members of the Proud Boys to speak at a commission meeting in March of last year regarding a resolution designating Grand Traverse County as a “2nd Amendment sanctuary.”

MacIntosh felt “compelled to speak on this matter given the group’s obvious ties to white supremacy and other hateful and violent actions, not the least of which was their well-publicized criminal role in the violent insurrection at our nation’s capitol,” the lawsuit states.

ADVERTISEMENT

She argues that Clous brandished the weapon to “inflict fear and emotional trauma” against residents who “might seek to petition their county government.” The action, she claims, deterred her from exercising her First Amendment rights.

MacIntosh stated in the complaint that she has been threatened since the incident went public. Her lawsuit details physical symptoms she has also suffered, including insomnia, migraines, nightmares, heart palpitation, nausea, weight loss and tremors.

She is seeking damages and compensation and for Grand Traverse County to declare that such brandishing of weapons violates the Constitution, according to the AP.

Neither Clous nor the board of commissioners immediately respond to requests for comment.

Clous had initially defended his actions, telling the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he was “just going to show the rifle and show that I fully support the Second Amendment."

He said he didn’t know anything about the Proud Boys other than they had spoken to the commission previously.

“They were probably the most respected folks that got up and talked," he said. "They were decent guys and they treated us with respect."

Commission Chairman Rob Hentschel, who can be seen laughing as Clous holds the rifle, told the Record-Eagle that he didn't see any harm in Clous's actions.

"I saw it across his chest and I thought it was ironic of him to do that," Hentschel said. "The person was talking about guns and he had one across his chest. I didn’t see him do anything illegal or dangerous with it. He wasn’t threatening or brandishing. He was just holding it."