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Lawsuit: Gun incident during virtual public comment infringed on First Amendment rights

Grand Traverse County Commissioner Ron Clous
Posted at 11:59 AM, Apr 12, 2021

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A lawsuit filed against a Traverse City commissioner after he showed a gun during public comment says Commissioner Ron Clous threatened First Amendment rights and caused emotional injury to the woman who had spoken just before the incident.

The woman filing the lawsuit, 74-year-old Patricia Macintosh, says she spoke during public comment to urge Traverse City commissioners to denounce “known violent groups involved in the destabilization of our democratic society, such as the ‘Proud Boys,’” the lawsuit said.

In response, Clous briefly left the virtual meeting and returned with a semi-automatic weapon, which he brandished at Macintosh and others.

RELATED: Board of Commission being sued over gun incident during livestream

Macintosh says that in the meeting’s aftermath, she received threatening phone calls, some after midnight, that made her fear for her life.

The ordeal caused emotional damage that would eventually manifest in physical symptoms, such as insomnia, migraine headache, nightmares, heart palpitations, nausea, weight loss and tremors, among others.

The lawsuit says Macintosh has been deterred from exercising her first amendment rights at future public meetings because of what happened – and that other members of the community may also have the same reaction as a result.

Two County Commission resolutions have since been put forward to clearly state that using guns in response to public comments cannot be allowed, but neither has moved forward.

Read the full lawsuit here.