GARFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A prosecutor has filed criminal complaints against two northern Michigan men in connection with an attack on a newspaper reporter covering a meeting by a group opposing masks and vaccination mandates.
Court records show misdemeanor assault or assault and battery complaints were authorized against Michael Adams, 55, of Kingsley, and Joseph Welsh, 51, of Traverse City, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported Saturday.
The charges were authorized Friday by Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg.
Record-Eagle education reporter Brendan Quealy said he was punched in the face Aug. 26 while covering an anti-mask event at a public recreation area just outside Traverse City in Garfield Township. Quealy said an event organizer pointed him out and told him to leave.
Citizens Liberating Michigan organizer Heather Cerone can be heard on an audio recording challenging the reporter’s presence and asking attendees to stand in front of him, according to the newspaper.
Quealy told investigators he was attacked when he refused to leave.
“In this case I had more than one witness that talked about what happened and we obviously have the video and the audio,” Moeggenberg said.
“The issue is people are so passionate about their feelings about Covid and masks and mandates, it is leading to violence in some cases,” Moeggenberg added. “By me charging this case, it speaks for itself.”
The newspaper reports that Cerone did not return calls seeking comment.
The Associated Press was unable to find telephone numbers Saturday for Adams or Welsh. AP also left messages seeking comment from an attorney listed as representing Adams.