Republican Michigan official sparks outrage when he refuses to denounce the Proud Boys during Zoom meeting and instead grabs a rifle and laughs when blasted for allowing the group's members to speak at a meeting last year

 A Republican county official in northern Michigan has sparked outrage after showing off his rifle during an online meeting where he came under criticism for allowing far-right extremist group 'Proud Boys' to speak at another meeting.

Ron Clous, a newly re-elected member of the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners, was at home during the livestreamed meeting on Wednesday, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

During a public comment period, a local woman, Kelli MacIntash, criticized the board for allowing self-described members of the 'Proud Boys' to speak at a commission meeting last year and urged commission Chairman Rob Hentschel to denounce them. 

The neo-fascist group is known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies and some of its members took part in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol that left a police officer and four others dead.

In this screengrab taken from a livestreamed meeting provided by the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Ron Clous holds a rifle at his home in response to a constituent's criticism concerning 'Proud Boys'

In this screengrab taken from a livestreamed meeting provided by the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Ron Clous holds a rifle at his home in response to a constituent's criticism concerning 'Proud Boys'

The online meeting was held on Wednesday and include a public comment period

The online meeting was held on Wednesday and include a public comment period 

At that point, Clous, who sat in a room with taxidermy deer heads mounted on the wall, stepped away from his webcam and returned carrying a rifle, which he held in his hands for a few seconds before silently putting it away. Hentschel burst out laughing, seeing Clous with the firearm.  

MacIntosh told the Record-Eagle she felt threatened. 

'This guy is in the middle of a government meeting brandishing a weapon,' MacIntosh said. 'Why would I not think they were trying to harm me?"

MacIntosh, 74, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she planned to file a report with the Michigan State Police.

'I didn't think he was going to shoot me, obviously, but I do think his whole point was to intimidate me and threaten me and anyone else who's going to speak out ... and see if he can stir up masses of people who are just looking for things to fight about,' she said.


Clous (bottom left), who is seen in a room with taxidermy deer heads on the wall, silently grabs the rifle in response to a constituent's request to condemn extremist groups

Clous (bottom left), who is seen in a room with taxidermy deer heads on the wall, silently grabs the rifle in response to a constituent's request to condemn extremist groups 

Clous told the newspaper he retrieved his rifle in response to MacIntosh's request.

'I was going to chime in as well,' Clous said. 'I was just going to show the rifle and show that I fully support the Second Amendment, but then I opted not to ... I was in my home.'

Two self-described members of the 'Proud Boys' spoke to the county board last March in support of a pro-Second Amendment resolution the panel adopted.

Clous said he won't denounce any group, including Black Lives Matter, the NFL, or LBGTQ organizations.

'The only thing I know about them (Proud Boys) is when they came and spoke to us,' Clous said. 'They were probably the most respected folks that got up and talked. They were decent guys and they treated us with respect.'

Clous, a Republican, described the 'Proud Boys' as 'decent guys' and refused to denounce them

Clous, a Republican, described the 'Proud Boys' as 'decent guys' and refused to denounce them 

Proud Boys has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and an extremist group by the FBI.

Hentschel, the board chairman, said he had no problem with what Clous did.

'I saw it across his chest and I thought it was ironic of him to do that,' Hentschel said. 'The person was talking about guns and he had one across his chest. I didn't see him do anything illegal or dangerous with it. He wasn't threatening or brandishing. He was just holding it.'

Holly T. Bird, a local attorney and activist, was appalled when she watched the recorded meeting.

'Everyone knows that if you're walking down the street and someone flashes a gun at you, it's a threat,' Bird said. 'To have a public official do that during a public meeting is horrendous.'

Betsy Coffia, a fellow county commissioner, labeled Clous' action 'deeply disturbing' and 'wildly inappropriate.' 

The largely symbolic resolution approved by the board in March 2020 says the county cannot use public funds to restrict Second Amendment rights or to enforce measures contradicting it.

During a meeting to discuss the resolution, right-wing talk radio host Randy Bishop, who Hentschel said is not a 'Proud Boy,' was allowed to speak for 20 minutes in support of the pro-gun rights resolution, while two self-described members of the 'Proud Boys' spoke for three minutes each.

'I am not a member of Proud Boys,' Hentschel said Wednesday. 'But I do know a few Proud Boys. I've met Black Proud Boys, I've met multi-racial Puerto Rican Proud Boys and they inform me they also have gay Proud Boys. I don't see how that's a hate group.' 

Republican Michigan official sparks outrage when he refuses to denounce the Proud Boys during Zoom meeting and instead grabs a rifle and laughs when blasted for allowing the group's members to speak at a meeting last year Republican Michigan official sparks outrage when he refuses to denounce the Proud Boys during Zoom meeting and instead grabs a rifle and laughs when blasted for allowing the group's members to speak at a meeting last year Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:20 Rating: 5

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