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Grand Traverse Board of Commissioners Forum Piece on Hentschel & the Proud Boys

Sylvia McCullough

March 19, 2020

The culture of authoritarianism emanating from the GT BOC under the Chairmanship of Robb Hentschel, can no longer be ignored after what transpired at the board meeting on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020.

What began ostensibly as a benign effort to support 2nd Amendment rights through the placing of a symbolic resolution of support on the agenda, it became something much more dark and sinister. The meaning of the wording of the resolution made clear “that the county cannot use public funds to restrict Second Amendment rights, nor to enforce any measures contradicting it.” As stated the resolution, which passed on a 4 to 2 vote, encourages citizens to ignore laws that are passed or may be passed in the Michigan legislature that enact sensible gun control such as universal background checks and red flag laws.

Later in the session Chair Robb Hentschel gave inordinate comment time to radio host and former chair of the Antrim County GOP, Randy Bishop. Bishop, who has been convicted of two felony counts for fraud, supported the resolution, and to two members of the Proud Boys, John Sumner, no address given, and Mike Walton of Williamsburg. After an attendee read a summary of the Proud Boy organization described as a “far-right neo-fascist organization that admits only men as members and promotes political violence,”, Hentschel invited them to comment further. Proud Boy, John Sumner, defended the Proud Boys despite the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League classify them as “hate” groups.

“Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.” Former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the rally in Charlottesville.

During the session some supporters of the resolution appeared to caress and fondle concealed firearms under jackets and in ankle holsters. The perceived impression of the entire carryings on was one of attempted threat and intimidation orchestrated by the Chair of the BOC, a direct tactic employed by authoritarian dictators and regimes.

Through his actions, at this meeting and others, Robb Hentschel displayed extreme poor judgement unbecoming of anyone in elected office much less a position of leadership. The citizens of Grand Traverse County respect the rule of law while at the same time seek to protect our children from the threat of escalating gun violence through the enactment of sensible gun legislation. Seventy % of people nationwide support red flag laws. How does inviting a felon convicted of fraud and members of a violent, neo-Nazi, misogynist group to defend a vacuous county resolution help to further those ends?

It is time to vote to replace commissioners who waste county time and taxpayer’s money on vacuous county resolutions, invite bad actors into our midst, and take votes to hurt the people of Grand Traverse County.

Any opinions that may have been stated here do not reflect the positions of the Grand Traverse Democrats.

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