Proud Patriots or Belligerent Bullies?

An outraged Carlos Zapata addresses Shasta County Board of Supervisors.

Tehama County business owner Carlos Zapata claimed he wasn’t making threats when he angrily addressed the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. However, if you watch the video, there’s no mistaking that’s exactly what he did.

The video of his speech went viral. He was featured on the likes of TMZ.com,  BIT CHUTE, the U.S. Sun, and even Newsweek. To many people, Zapata is a hero who pulled no punches. On social media, some Zapata fans are clamoring for him to throw his hat in the ring for elected office.

Poster source: Facebook

He’s being hailed as a leader whose sentiments echo many North Staters’ views about the coronavirus and what they see as unnecessary, and even harmful mandated shutdowns.

He’s also being criticized as a belligerent bully who made some horrific threats that could incite like-minded virus-deniers to act upon Zapata’s dire warnings.

You may remember Zapata from a few months back after the earliest COVID shutdowns. Zapata was vocal in his defiance of the state pandemic shutdown orders.

At last Tuesday’s Shasta County BOS meeting, Zapata, who’s a Marine Corps combat veteran, expressed outrage as he referred to the virus as the greatest hoax ever perpetuated upon Americans. He mocked supervisors and county staff for wearing masks, and pointed out that one supervisor – Joe Chimenti – appeared to be sleeping behind his mask.

“I don’t blame you for wearing masks, because I’d be hiding my face too, if I was you. for what you’re doing,” Zapata said.

He implored the supervisors to remove their masks and completely open the county. He said families were starving, and that he knew six veteran friends who’d killed themselves after losing jobs because of the COVID shutdowns.

Next came his predictions.

“Right now we’re being peaceful, and you better be happy that we’re being good citizens, that we’re peaceful citizens,” he said. “But it’s not going to be peaceful much longer.”

Threat No. 1.

He said good citizens would soon turn into revolutionary citizens.

Threat No. 2.

“I’m probably the only person who has the balls to say what I’m saying right now,” he said.

He claimed that he and others had plans to end the government shutdowns, that they were building and organizing, and they would work with or without law enforcement.

“But you won’t stop us when the time comes,” Zapata said.

Threat No. 3.

” … This is a warning for what’s coming,” he said. “It’s not going to be peaceful much longer. It’s not going to be rah rah. It’s not going to be speeches and … pledge of allegiance and waving flags.”

Threat No. 4.

He said he’d been in combat, something he didn’t wish to return to, but he would if he had to.

“I went to war for this country,” Zapata said. “I’ve been in combat and I never want to go back again, but I’ll tell you what. I will to save this country. If it has to be against our own citizens, it will happen.”

Carlos Zapata served in the U.S. Marine Corp. Photo source: Facebook

“And there’s a million people like me, and you won’t stop us.”

Finally, that makes threat No. 5.

He reminded the supervisors that Shasta County is supposed to be a red county, not blue.

“By God, we’re Americans,” he said. “Take your masks off. Quit muzzling yourselves.”

Although Zapata’s a high-profile example of someone who’s pushed back hard against the COVID restrictions, he gains more company with each passing day.

Jesse Lane calls men to action: ‘Quit being pussies’

Remember Jesse Lane, one of the founders of Stake in Nor Cal? He was memorable because he had the courage to publicly take unbelievable Sheriff Eric Magrini to task for throwing Lane, his fellow Stake in Nor Cal members, as well as other militia under the bus following the June 2 Redding protest after George Floyd’s murder.  You may recall how Lane described his group’s ideal membership on their Facebook page:

“We don’t need a bunch of hot heads, tough guys, racists, snowflakes or douchebags in this group. This group is private for a reason, so if they are welcome at your table, then bring them in. Left wing, you will be the minority in this group if you choose to be here. I encourage all with a stake in NorCal to be here, but pushing the left-wing agenda will be checked at the door, so tread lightly.”

Judging by one of Lane’s recent Facebook live posts, it appears he’s reconsidered his ban on hot heads and tough guys.

In his video, filmed behind a steering wheel, he appeals to men to “step up” and take action. Granted, he doesn’t specify what kind of action, or action about what exactly. However, in his message, Lane does not contain his obvious disappointment and exasperation that so many men are doing so little. He complains about the lack of men who’ve stepped up. He points out with irritation his observation that often, the women outnumber the men at their patriot events.

His blistering macho message is a combination of pep talk and inactivity-shaming.

“You men. We’re bred to be courageous and be warriors and protect our families, protect our wives, protect our livestock, protect our homes.

I’m hearing a lot of you guys talk about protecting, but guess what? Half of you are sitting on your asses. We have these groups; five, 10 people out of groups of 100, 2000, 4000, 5,000. We get 5 to 20 out of each group showing up. and those men show up with a passion and courage, and they show up as warriors, protect their families and their wives and their children and their faith,

But I also see twice as many women show up.

Step the fuck up, men. Quit being pussies and sittin’ at home worrying about your football games and all this other shit. There’s something  brewing underneath the core of America. and we can’t sit by idly while the tyrannical government runs us over.

Your rights are getting taken and stripped, and instead of stepping up and handling it, you’re sitting on your ass like a little frickin’ bitch. So step up get courageous, become a warrior that you were created to be. Step up! I’ll be right there along side you. Let’s do this, brothers. Get up! I know I have a handful of guys that follow me and I follow them, and we’ll follow each other to death to protect children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren. But men! Come on. What are we doing? But as to these local officials saying COVID’s going to keep happening until we have a vaccine ready. Guess what? We have a vaccine for tyrannical government. You don’t want us to fucking use it. So step up, men!”

For full effect, watch Lane’s entire video.

You tell me, what exactly is Lane expecting men to “step up” and do? And what exactly might Lane and friends’ vaccine look like to fully eradicate a tyrannical government?

Women can be bullies, too

Finally, Saturday a group of North State self-described maskless “patriots” stormed Sprouts Farmers Market store in Redding to protest the store’s pandemic mask policies. The protest was organized by “Rally Sally” Rapoza, a Redding Tea Party/State of Jefferson/Re-Open Shasta County regular.

Image source: Facebook

Some of the protesters, such as Rapoza, even called the Redding Police Department to announce the clash that was taking place between masked store personnel and the maskless protesters, the latter of whom claimed the store’s mask policy infringed upon their liberties.

At some point, store management decided to close the store, something you’d think the anti-maskers would have sought to avoid, being as though they are so worked up over the virus causing business shutdowns.

By some counts, about 10 RPD vehicles converged upon the Sprouts Farmers Market site. A few Facebook reports claimed there were some heated exchanges between the maskless protesting patriots, shoppers, store employees and masked counter-protesters.

Is the North State ripe for the Boogaloo movement?

There’s a rumor picking up speed on Facebook that says the North State is a breeding ground for Boogaloo movement sympathizers. Boogaloo is defined as an American, loosely organized, extremist, far-right, anti-government extremist movement; a description that eerily, increasingly matches the mindset of many North State citizens. Although Boogaloo is a silly sounding word, there’s nothing funny about it, and its followers are dead serious about their missions and means to achieve them.

Reviewing rhetoric by people like Zapata, who warns of combat against fellow citizens, and Lane, who’s imploring men to step up and stop being bitches and pussies, both men’s words have a menacing ring to them.

To add yet a bit more fuel to an already smoldering fire, consider that we live in a region where our Shasta County law enforcement leaders have repeatedly voiced their unwillingness to enforce COVID public-health mandates.

Speaking of law enforcement, one short segment is missing from the abridged version of Zapata’s video posted here; a few seconds just before Zapata addresses the supervisors. In the original Shasta County clip, Zapata looks to his left, smiles, greets the sheriff and says it’s nice to see him.

It begs the question: What did Magrini think of Zapata’s speech, especially the parts that threatened potential violence and blatant defiance of the COVID mandates?

What if there’s civil unrest in Shasta County at the hands of our well-armed militia and outraged citizens, here in our red region with more than 11,000 concealed weapon permit holders? What will law enforcement do then? Whose side will law enforcement take, and who will they protect?

Behold, the profile image from unbelievable Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini’s Facebook page: Blessed are the peacemakers. Mathew 5:9

Source: Sheriff Eric Magrini’s Facebook page.

The entire scripture reads: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

What kind of child of God would look the other way while rowdy  peace-wreckers are openly threatening, and defy public safety mandates? A very ungodly child of God, that’s who.

Which reminds me. Here’s a good example of the spirit of clueless selfishness demonstrated by Beni Johnson, Bethel Church’s No. 2 in command, in her recent Instagram post.

Beni Johnson clarifies that she’s wearing a mask to protect herself from the smoke, not because of COVID.

So, let me get this straight, Beni. You’re a professed Christian leader, and you will wear a mask to protect your lungs from summertime smoke, but you will not wear a mask to potentially protect others during a pandemic?

On earth as it is in heaven …

Going to combat. Who’s the enemy?

We heard how Zapata said he and others like him would take action “with or without” law enforcement. We saw Saturday that although multiple RPD cars arrived on the scene as a few dozen protesters entered the store without masks, to my knowledge, there wasn’t a single arrest or citation.

Let’s say that people such as combat-veteran Zapata follow through and do as  as he described, that he and his buddies dust off their combat chops and turn those professional military skills against fellow citizens? Will our law enforcement join forces with the patriots, or protect and serve the public?

When Lane shouts at men to step up, what exactly is he suggesting they step up to?

When Zapata warns of turning his combat skills against citizens, who’s his enemy? The governor? Public health officials? Sprouts employees? Random people who wear masks?

A look at Facebook and you get some clues about what some people are thinking, and planning. Many people have violence on their mind, and frankly, it’s terrifying.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Ironically, many of the posts that suggest force should be used to stop the COVID crackdowns are laced with references to Christianity and God.

Sweet Jesus, what would you do if you were stuck in 2020 with us?

Somehow, I just can’t picture Jesus collecting weapons to use against fellow citizens who believe masks save lives.

By “supplies” I’m guessing the above Facebook poster means weapons. Somebody please tell me where in this world weapons would fit into the pandemic story.

Whose rights matter most?

Lately, as I watch how countries across the globe have managed to unite in their fight against the pandemic, I’m a heartbroken American. I’m a heartbroken American to see how the pandemic has become politicized between those who are pro-mask (liberal) and those who are anti-mask (conservative).

I am a heartbroken American that so many people can behave so selfishly as to refuse to wear a simple mask – as a form of protest – and in doing so, could put others’ lives at risk.

I am a heartbroken America because in the U.S., a country that espouses so many basic rights, the word “rights” has been hijacked by so-called patriots who intentionally cough in people’s face, or mock the mask-wearers, or storm stores that have clearly posted signs that require masks.

I am a heartbroken American who grieves for the families, friends and communities torn apart over something as simple as a tiny piece of cloth intended to help reduce the spread of a highly contagious, extremely unpredictable and potentially deadly virus.

I am a heartbroken American to realize that often, those very people who protest the pandemic restrictions most vociferously are those who do absolutely nothing to help stop it, and adding insult to injury, their very noncompliance may give even more oxygen to the virus, and cause it to flare and spike out of control, causing more shutdowns. Cue teeth-gnashing, wails of grave injustice, and accusations of colossal crimes against ‘mericans.

I am a heartbroken American to listen to these passionate patriots’ daily rants, commands, yells, stories and threats by frustrated people who are venting in the wrong place, to the wrong people, powerless to alter the governor’s executive public health mandates.

Their long lists of demands and criticisms and condemnations – though heartfelt – are as misguided and misdirected as if Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion took their wishes to the Munchkins, rather than the Great and Powerful Oz.

Most of all, I am a heartbroken American to live in a country whose name has become an oxymoron: the United States of America. We’ve not been this divided since the Civil War.

We have so much common ground, starting with the fact that nobody loves wearing a mask, and nobody loves shutdowns, and nobody loves the thought of losing a loved one to COVID-19, or falling ill from it.

Let’s say that Zapata is right, that there’s nothing anyone can do to stop the millions of people who believe as he does, who think civil war is a viable solution, citizen against citizen.

What next, after they’ve dealt with our country in their aggressive, destructive way? Will they turn their attention to Europe, where Americans are considered unwanted, unsanitary germ vectors? Will those pushy patriots demand entrance and their “right” to travel to places where they’re looked upon as lepers? If Americans can’t obey their own public health rules, other countries are correct to assume Americans wouldn’t respect others’ rules, either.

Americans could end up being international pandemic pariahs for decades, banned the world over from setting foot on foreign soil for the rest of our livelong days.

But what if those angry, protesting patriots are wrong? What if the novel coronavirus is not a hoax?

How unkindly will historians judge us if our country ends up destroyed by two enemies: a virus that kills millions of people, and a civil war that decimates  the survivors?

The solution is so simple. Hedge the bets. Wear a mask whether you believe in the virus or not. At the very least, you’ll be protected from catching something you do believe in, like the flu.

The sooner we all take the virus seriously, and the sooner we all take the same precautions, the sooner our lives can return to some semblance of normalcy;  enjoying all those seemingly insignificant things we once took for granted.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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