Activist cuffed by deputies, ordered to leave precinct property

LEIGHTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Allegan County deputies ordered an attorney collecting signatures to leave Leighton Township property after she failed to comply with the township clerk’s request to do so. 

Katherine Henry, founder of the Restore Freedom Initiative, posted the resulting confrontation on YouTube

Henry, an attorney from Hudsonville, is running for a seat on the Georgetown Township Board.

She and other Restore Freedom organizers collected signatures at precincts around West Michigan Tuesday. 

“So, he’s here, trying to arrest me,” Henry said on the video, referring to an Allegan County deputy. 

Henry had set up a table at the edge of the township building’s parking lot to collect signatures for her Restore Freedom petition, which, according to the group’s website, would amend the state constitution to “reign back in government power.”   

A table set up by the Restore Freedom Initiative to collect signatures near a voting precinct on Nov. 3, 2020. (Courtesy: Katherine Henry via YouTube)

“This is our set up. So, we are nowhere near the 100-foot mark,” said Henry, pointing to the area of the parking lot where township officials had marked 100 feet from the poll’s entrance.  

Henry’s table was not near that line.   

“They are, he says, going to arrest me if we don’t leave right now because the township owns this property and the township said we have to leave,” explained Henry in the video.  

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At one point, someone off camera, presumably a deputy, told Henry, “This is Allegan County. This is not Macomb County, OK? Frank Baker, he’s super disappointed right now.” 

Baker is the Allegan County Sheriff. 

Henry noted that Baker had already been in contact with Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf regarding the incident.  

“Oh, (Baker’s) been already on the phone with Sheriff Dar Leaf and they’ve been talking about it today, so he knows about this very situation,” Henry told the deputy.  

“OK, Dar is Barry County, this is Allegan County,” said the off-camera deputy. 

That’s when someone commented, “Dar’s actually — he’s a constitutional sheriff.” 

At that point, Henry noted that she and Leaf are both members of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.  

According to the CSPOA’s website, county sheriffs are America’s “last hope” to turn the country around and get it back “on the freedom track laid for us by our Founders.” 

An undated photo of Katherine Henry, an attorney from Hudsonville, next to militia members. (Courtesy: Katherine Henry via Facebook)

Later in the exchange between deputies and Katherine Henry, Leighton Township Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis came out to reiterate her directive that Henry leave the premises. 

“I explained to you that we have discretion to not allow … you may not leave a vehicle on township property beyond the time necessary to transact township business,” explained Neiuwenhuis.  

Henry continued to quote the law that allows for the dissemination of campaign literature as long as the person doing so is beyond 100 feet from the entrance of a polling place. 

One of the deputies repeatedly asked Henry if she were willing to vacate the property. 

“So, you were asked to leave, are you willing to leave? Yes or no? The prosecutor is onboard with the trespassing,” said the deputy.  

The video clip ended, but Henry later said in a Facebook post that she was handcuffed and placed in the back of the cruiser. 

“I do have criminal charges. I was handcuffed. I am injured from that … thrown into the cruiser instead of allowing me to sit in it,” said Henry in the post on Facebook.   

News 8 called Leighton Township offices for clarification on the township’s reasoning, but were told, “no comment” before the person who answered hung up.  

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department told News 8 it did not arrest Henry and said our question would be “better answered by the complainant, the Leighton Township supervisor.”  

When News 8 asked if the department had issued a citation to Henry, Undersheriff Michael Larsen said “it is too early to comment on enforcement action at this time. All I can say is that all parties left the premises and no one was lodged.”