A Michigan woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Grand Traverse County’s Commissioner Ron Claus, who gained national notoriety after wielding a semi-automatic rifle in a public Zoom meeting.
According to The Detroit Free Press, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Traverse City on Monday.
In her complaint, 74-year-old Patricia “Keli” MacIntosh alleged that Clous tried to suppress her right to freedom of expression during a Zoom conference on January 21st.
MacIntosh, tells MLive.com, had asked Grand Traverse County officials to issue a statement against the Proud Boys and other far-right militias trying to dismiss the 2020 presidential election results. While MacIntosh spoke, Clous got up from his chair and walked away from the screen – only to return a few minutes later with an AR-15.
Clous, says the lawsuit, “swung [the gun] with a menacing grin on his face as the commission chairman watched and laughed in support. “
After the meeting concluded, MacIntosh said she had received threatening calls and was now living in fear considering how groups like the Proud Boys are reacting [sic] to those who do not share their beliefs. “
Grand Traverse County commissioner Bryce Hundley later said the meeting was the first to take place outside the United States Capitol after the January 6 riots – and that sentiment was high as a result.
A close-up of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Image via Wikimedia Commons / Steve Rainwater. (CCA-BY-2.0)
“This is a mostly rural county,” said Hundley. “Lots of people here own guns and a lot of people take gun ownership very seriously.”
Paradoxically, commission chairman Rob Hentschel told the Detroit Free Press that when Clous brandished a semi-automatic rifle in the middle of a public Zoom meeting, he was actually trying to show support for MacIntosh.
“She said she supported some kind of gun ownership,” said Hentschel. “Then Ron showed the gun. He actually agreed with what she said. “
Hentschel said MacIntosh was initially unaware of Clous’ actions and only found out about them after being informed by another participant in the meeting.
The Detroit Free Press believes Grand Traverse County has an unusual history of personalizing politics at the national level – something Hundley apparently finds uncomfortable.
“I think if the county can only stay on county issues, we would be better off,” he said.
“We have the opportunity to deal with certain things that happen to our neighbors and our local communities,” he said, “but the only way to do that is by touching on all of national politics.”
The Detroit Metro Times adds that the Michigan attorney general is actively investigating the legality of Clous’ actions.
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