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Grand Traverse resident hopes lawsuit will hold county commissioners accountable


At times, Keli MacIntosh had to take a deep breath before getting her words out. During an emotional testimony Tuesday, she explained why she decided to sue Commissioner Ron Clous and Grand Traverse County. 

“I will act even though quite honestly, based on what has happened thus far, I am concerned for my safety,” she said. 

The litigation stems from a virtual public meeting in January, when MacIntosh asked county officials to denounce violence from the Capitol insurrection, and specifically from the Proud Boys. 

In the midst of her comment, Commissioner Ron Clous left his screen, then returned carrying a rifle. 

MacIntosh argues this amounted to retaliation and stopped her from speaking out at subsequent meetings. She says she’s not alone.

“I know that commissioner Clous grabbing a gun in response to my request has also frightened and intimidated others,” she said. “They are reluctant to speak out if they disagree with their elected officials.”

Since the incident, Clous has not apologized, and the commission has yet to condemn his behavior. They did not respond to requests for comment. A resolution that failed to pass called the display "well intentioned.”

MacIntosh said she has received multiple threatening calls. Despite this, she thinks the lawsuit is necessary. 

“The commissioners' lack of accountability has led me to conclude something must be done,” she said. “After serious soul searching, I believe this task falls to me.”

At a commissioners meeting also held Tuesday morning, the board voted to only allow residents to make public comments in person, not online. Clous introduced the measure.

Lexi Krupp reports on science and the environment. Previously, she worked for Gimlet Media where she helped the Science Vs team distinguish what's fact from what's not. Her work has appeared in Audubon, Popular Science, VICE, and elsewhere.