Traverse City lady, attorney to file lawsuit against official who flashed rifle during meeting

MICHIGAN – A Grand Traverse County agent will be tried in the coming days for his conduct during a virtual public meeting in January.

“What I can tell you is that this 74-year-old single woman did not ask to be transferred to this position,” said the woman’s attorney, Blake Ringsmuth of Ringsmuth Wuori LLC. “She was simply exercising her right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the first amendment to the United States Constitution, when a county commissioner who didn’t seem to appreciate her speech decided to get off camera and get an AR-15. Taking a weapon and exposing it in a threatening manner. “

READ MORE: Michigan official shows gun after criticizing public gatherings

That county commissioner was Ron Clous. Ringsmuth said his client, whom he calls Jane Doe in order to hide her identity, has asked the commission to denounce violence and extremism across the country, particularly the chaos that happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th got up from his seat during the virtual meeting, walked away, and returned seconds later.

“Mr. Clous didn’t have a gun with him at the beginning of this meeting. He went and got a gun in response to my client’s freedom of speech under the first amendment,” Ringsmuth repeated during a Zoom interview on Friday afternoon. asking her to denounce the violence in our state and in our country, he decided to get an AR-15 and show it to her in a threatening manner with a grin on his face, and to insult the injury, the chairman laughed. “

The video of the meeting shows Chairman Rob Hentschel laughing in the upper left corner. Since then, many parishioners and commissioners have called for their resignation, he said. More than 1,500 people have signed a petition calling on both of them to resign.

READ MORE: Gun provocation shows tension in the Traverse City area

Ringsmuth said many in the ward supported Jane Doe, but not all.

“She received threatening calls from people late at night,” said Ringsmuth. “I can’t speak to your mindset. I can only tell you that it was very disturbing, very traumatic and she lives in fear, and that is unfortunate. “

So Jane Doe and Ringsmuth will file a lawsuit in federal court on Monday for violations of the constitution. The lawsuit also alleges that she “terrorized and emotionally traumatized” the woman.

FOX 17 reached out to all commissioners, including Clous, for their perspective. So far, Commissioner Darryl Nelson has replied. He said in a statement:

“I understand from media reports that there is an impending lawsuit on this matter. At that point this becomes a legal matter that doesn’t really need to be managed by the board of directors. I intend to cooperate fully with all judicial inquiries. But I will stay on my track and not comment on anything that is not an issue in front of the board. ”

FOX 17 is waiting to hear from Clous and others.

Ringsmuth said the lawsuit will be filed in federal court Monday. A press conference will take place the next day.

He stressed that it was not about gun rights. It’s about initial adjustment rights.

“We are going to ask the court to issue an injunction that says, ‘No, this is unconstitutional and has no place in our democratic government,” said Ringsmuth have supported this very difficult time, want the world and the rest of the country to know that the Grand Traverse area does not support this behavior. “

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