Michigan Official Asked To Denounce The Proud Boys On A Zoom Meeting Responds By Getting His Gun
"My request was, can you please make a public statement denouncing the Proud Boys, and his statement was to shove an assault rifle in my face," Keli MacIntosh, who asked the commissioner to condemn the group, said.
January 25, 2021 at 5:48 pm
A member of the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners in Michigan responded to a woman urging elected officials to denounce the Proud Boys during a virtual meeting by retrieving his gun.
Keli MacIntosh, a regular attendee who was expressing her concern along with one other woman, said she was shocked on Wednesday when Grand Traverse County commissioner Ron Clous got up during the meeting and returned with a weapon.
"My request was, can you please make a public statement denouncing the Proud Boys, and his statement was to shove an assault rifle in my face," MacIntosh told CNN. "I didn't think he was going to shoot me through the screen or anything like that. But the first thing I thought is, how does anyone feel free to speak up lest they do not test the temper of the commissioner, or you will be reamed over the coals by them."
MacIntosh spoke up after another woman also lamented about the need to condemn the Proud Boys. The first woman recalled a meeting from last year and criticized the board for allowing members of the Proud Boys to speak on gun rights at the time. Both women said normalizing the hate group is dangerous to the community.
As the discussion continued, Clous retrieved a large gun and briefly held the weapon against his chest before putting it down. The violent act has been receiving backlash in the community, with many demanding for Clous to resign from his position as the board's vice-chair, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Residents are also slamming Rob Hentschel, chair of the board of commissioners. Hentschel defended the Proud Boys during the meeting, refusing to acknowledge that the group has malicious intentions.
"I'm not a member of Proud Boys. I did not give a Proud Boy 20 minutes of time in the commissioner's meeting. But I do know a few Proud Boys, I've met a few," Hentschel said. "I've met Black Proud Boys, I've met multi-racial Puerto-Rican Proud Boys, and they informed me they also have gay Proud Boys. I don't see how that's a hate group. And I don't really appreciate this forum being used to spread misinformation about me or groups."
Hentschel also refused to decry Clous' actions.
"Mr. Clous did not break any rules or laws in what he did," he said in a statement. "The claims of intimidation are greatly exaggerated. The speaker has been a regular commenter for over two years who has often criticized, but always been welcomed by the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners."
MacIntosh said it was the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol which heightened her concern and prompted her to speak up against the Proud Boys.
"It's really hard to tell the difference between the Proud Boys and the message they want through our state, how that's different from what's happened in Washington," the 72-year-old retired nurse said during the meeting. "Welcoming such a group and having that message go out has changed the environment in northern Michigan from a hunting culture to that of a gun culture. And I am just really concerned."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has designated the Proud Boys as a hate group, the members are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who established the group during the 2016 presidential election, describes himself as Islamophobic, according to the SPLC.
"Muslims have a problem with inbreeding," McInnes said on his podcast in 2018. "They tend to marry their first cousins and that is a major problem here because when you have mentally damaged inbreds — which not all Muslims are, but a disproportionate number are — and you have a hate book called the Quran, you end up with a perfect recipe for mass murder."
Despite the bizarre meeting on Wednesday, MacIntosh said she plans to return.
"I might seem like a little old gray-haired lady to these people, but I'm going to stay there," she said. "We cannot back down, the reason our country is like this is because not a single person in Washington said anything to what was going on. We cannot let this go unchallenged, we cannot not fight."