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Arrest warrants issued for men accused of attacking Traverse City newspaper reporter

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Two men accused of punching journalist in face during anti-mask protest

Grand Traverse County’s 86th District Court has authorized arrest warrants for two men alleged to have attacked Traverse City Record-Eagle reporter Brendan Quealy.

The attorney for one of the accused men said his client will be arraigned Tuesday morning.

Quealy was reporting on an anti-mask and anti-vaccine mandate event at Silver Lake Recreational Area in August when two men approached him and one allegedly punched him in the face, according to the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

There is video surveillance footage and an audio recording taken by Quealy as evidence, said Prosecuting Attorney Noelle Moeggenberg.

She said her office will be pursuing assault and battery charges against Michael Adams of Kingsley and Joseph Welsh of Traverse City.

Moeggenberg said it appears they targeted Quealy because he is a journalist.

“Everyone’s passions are running high when it comes to COVID and vaccines and masking mandates and things like that,” she said. “Unfortunately, it got the better of some people.”

Earlier this year, police arrested a Leelanau County man for allegedly attacking a TV news cameraman who was recording a Governor Gretchen Whitmer event.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker shows there has been a substantial increase in physical attacks on U.S. journalists in the past two years.

Attorney Jeffrey Slocombe, who is representing Welsh, said his client has been wrongfully accused. He said Welsh is scheduled for arraignment at 9:20 Tuesday morning.

Slocombe said Welsh approached Quealy to have a conversation with him and then tried to stop the assault of Quealy.

“My client who is an upstanding businessman in the community was trying to protect the reporter. That’s all that happened,” Slocombe said. “I just hope that everyone keeps an open mind on this until all the facts are in.”

The attorney representing Adams, Matthew Benedict, said he did not wish to comment when reached Monday afternoon.