HASTINGS, MI — An organized protest against Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf may have been canceled over safety concerns, but that didn’t stop residents from showing up to show support or denounce the sheriff.
Individuals and crowds of people began to gather more than an hour before Tuesday morning’s Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting to express their views on the sheriff and, if space allowed, get inside the meeting to voice their opinions.
Leaf came under fire for having shared the stage at a Grand Rapids rally in May with militia members, including one who’s since been arrested for the alleged governor-kidnapping plot, and for controversial comments he made after the arrests last week.
With capacity limits maxed out indoors due to social distancing protocols, some 40 people listened from speakers outside the community foundation center as public comment was given Oct. 13.
More spoke in favor of the sheriff than against, as nearly a dozen individuals praised his constitutionality, loyalty and dedication to the community, many doing so to much applause.
Related: Michigan sheriff accepts criticism of association with militia members, will not resign
Leaf supporter Joel Ibbotson said he knew many people who vehemently oppose Leaf’s personal politics, but publicly advocate for him as sheriff.
“Simply put, his personal politics do not get in the way of his public duty to the Constitution of the United States,” Ibbotson said. “He was elected constitutionality by we the people and has run the office in a way to serve the people not to arrest them.”
Olivia Bennett, who organized the protest against Leaf, asked commissioners to pass a resolution asking for Leaf’s resignation.
Bennett, who is transgender, spoke using her legal name, Cody Hayes.
“Unlike others in my county, I believe safety to be of the utmost importance,” she