A 74-year-old woman filed a federal lawsuit Monday against her Michigan county and a county commissioner who displayed a rifle during a live-streamed public meeting after she asked the elected board to reject groups such as the Proud Boys.
Patricia MacIntosh’s lawsuit names Grand Traverse County and Ron Clous as defendants.
Clous and other county board members were meeting remotely on Jan. 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic. During a public comment period, MacIntosh criticized the board chairman for allowing members of the far-right Proud Boys to speak last year in favour of declaring the county a "Second Amendment Sanctuary."
As she spoke, Clous retrieved a rife and held it in view of the camera before setting it aside. MacIntosh, who lives in Grand Traverse County, filed a report with the state police.
The weapon was brandished to "inflict fear and emotional trauma" on MacIntosh and others who "might seek to petition their county government," according to her lawsuit.
That lawsuit also states that MacIntosh asked the board to make a statement against "violent and threatening behaviour of known violent groups" following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and last year’s arrests of about a dozen men accused of planning the kidnapping Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In March 2020, Clous and other members of the commission welcomed at least two Proud Boys members to speak in favour of a resolution designating Grand Traverse County as a "2nd Amendment sanctuary," according to MacIntosh’s lawsuit.
Members of the Proud Boys have been charged with conspiracy and accused of working together during the Capitol siege.
MacIntosh "was 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 says.
The lawsuit claims MacIntosh has since been threatened, and that she fears for her life and suffers from insomnia, migraine headaches, nightmares, heart palpitation, nausea, weight loss and tremors. It also says Clous’ action has deterred her from exercising her First Amendment rights.
MacIntosh is seeking damages and compensation and for Grand Traverse County to declare that such brandishing of weapons violates the Constitution.
In February, Michigan's attorney general's office said it was considering whether charges should be filed against Clous following a request from the Grand Traverse County prosecutor's office and the state police investigation.
Neither Clous nor the board of commissioners immediately replied to messages seeking comment.
Corey Williams, The Associated Press