Michigan weighs charges against official who displayed gun

Gesture of commissioner Ron Clous drew local backlash, international headlines

FILE - In this file image from a Zoom meeting provided by the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners, Grand Traverse County Commissioner Ron Clous holds a rifle at his home during a county commissioners meeting Jan. 20, 2021, in Michigan. Clous displayed the rifle during the online meeting in response to a citizen's comments about a far-right extremist group, drawing backlash from some local residents. (Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners via AP, File) (Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Michigan Attorney General’s office is considering whether charges should be filed against a county commissioner who displayed a rifle during a livestreamed public meeting, a spokesman said Friday.

The move was prompted by a request from the Grand Traverse County prosecutor's office following a state police investigation of commissioner Ron Clous' act, said Ryan Jarvi, spokesman for Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Read: Michigan official shows gun after public meeting criticism

Clous and other county board members were meeting remotely because of the pandemic Jan. 20. During a telephone public comment period, local resident Keli MacIntosh criticized the chairman for allowing members of the far-right Proud Boys group to speak last year in favor of declaring the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”

As the caller spoke, Clous retrieved a rife and held it in view of the camera before setting it aside.

The gesture drew a local backlash and international headlines. MacIntosh filed a report with the state police.

County board Chairman Rob Hentschel told the Traverse City Record-Eagle the state police had contacted him and other commissioners about the matter.

Read more: Gun provocation reveals tensions in Michigan tourist haven

“It is my understanding that any time a county commissioner is involved, the case would be sent to the state police, rather than local law enforcement,” Hentschel said.

The Associated Press left phone and email messages with Clous seeking comment.

Jarvi declined to say what charges were being considered.

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