They Say They Want a Revolution … Count Me Out

Can you feel it? Are you hearing it?

A perfectly horrific human storm of civil unrest is roiling and boiling on the North State’s horizon. The growing storm is emboldened by local militia groups; strengthened by social media posts that openly call for a revolution against “tyranny”.

For these groups, “tyranny” is what happens when the pandemic shuts downs businesses. “Tyranny” is what happens when citizens are “muzzled” by masks for a virus these patriots believe is a hoax. “Tyranny” is when public health tests for COVID-19, or attempts contract tracing to identify other infected people.

As far as many members of these groups are concerned, the COVID numbers are cooked and the so-called pandemic is just part of master plot to turn Americans into sheep and destroy the middle class.

Consequently, recently on Facebook symbols like these are becoming more common.

The impending storm of civil unrest is exacerbated by the fact that California’s Democratic governor and his pandemic mandates are hated by the majority of the Trump-supporting region where many are simpatico with ideals espoused by the State of Jefferson and the Tea Party.

The storm’s epicenter is a swirling dervish of mostly white conservative men who are furious as hell at what they view as government abuse of power for ordering COVID-related public health pandemic mandates and shutdowns that are killing our economy.

For some, this fractured moment in history is an opportunity for resistance and civil disobedience. It’s what they’ve waited for, planned for, and trained for, both as official members of organized militia groups, and privately, as citizens who are collecting weapons to prepare for combat, with fellow citizens, if necessary.

For people with this mindset, as the logo below says, resistance is not optional, but a duty. Real men stand up and participate. Only weak scaredy cats wear masks.

Image on Shasta County citizen’s Facebook page.

Day by day the human atmospheric pressure continues to build in the North State. Myriad lines have been drawn so deeply in the sand that there now exists an ever-widening chasm between the maskers and anti-maskers, science-believers versus science-deniers, and between Black Lives Matters believers versus those who steadfastly insist black lives aren’t that special, and that All Lives Matter.

That’s why I say that here in Shasta County, home of more than 11,000 card-carrying concealed-weapon permit-holders, I believe we’re ripe for a violent tragedy similar to what happened last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There, teenager Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire upon anti-racist protesters, killing two and severely injuring one.

That terrible incident has become yet another source of North State division and contention.

On the one hand, some groups hail the teenager as a hero, evidenced by this post on a Redding resident’s Facebook page.

Meme found on one North State “patriot’s” Facebook page.

And this post from another Shasta County resident’s Facebook page with the caption, Super hero.

Reading, Writing and Racism

On the other hand, one Shasta County teacher suffered harsh criticism after she posted a controversial meme Friday afternoon — during work hours — that expressed support for Rittenhouse, and dissed the Black Lives Matter movement.

This teacher’s post triggered a barrage of comments, both for and against the Shasta County employee who posted the meme.

One Shasta County teacher spoke for many others when she described her colleague’s Facebook post as “disgusting and racist”.

What especially bothered this outraged educator was knowing that here in America’s post-Columbine era, messages of violence at the hands of students are taken seriously at most schools. The educator pointed out that had a student posted a similar photo of a shooter accompanied by a supportive caption on social media, the student would be considered a potential threat, and expelled, for starters.

“I’d be conducting a threat assessment, and the SRO (school resource officer) would be at their house asking if guns are locked up,” the educator said.

“Imagine. That is a first-grade teacher. I wonder how she treats the non-white kids in her class? I wouldn’t want my kid in there.”

Hotheads and hot air

Although there seems a daily uptick in aggressive rhetoric by those North State citizens calling for a revolution to protest COVID-related restrictions, we can look to as early as June to see the seeds of unrest planted in Shasta County following the protest against George Floyd’s murder by police.

As an example, here’s a Facebook post written by a North State militia member — “proud American citizen” — after the June 2 Redding protest in front of the courthouse. The author looks ahead to the November election.

The militia group gathered for a photo- op break as the protesters headed toward Shasta Street on Tues., June 2. Many of the Stake in NorCal members were clustered toward the back of the group. Photo by Doni Chamberlain

“Over 200 (many legally armed/concealed carry-licensed) citizens in Redding stood their ground last night to ward off agitators in Redding. Buses of agitators including antifa were escorted out of town by the Guard after the citizens stood their ground preventing any issues.

Cottonwood platoon militia worked with law-enforcement in Red Bluff last night and we stood to protect businesses, providing legally armed security. The protest was peaceful. Potential agitators knew where they stood, dissipated, and left.

CHP thanked us and Red Bluff PD saw us as allies. This goes to show you that the legally armed citizen exercising their Second Amendment right is necessary.

And you blue states, blue counties and blue cities, notice your destruction and chaos because your politicians deny you Second Amendment Rights especially concealed carry. Up here in Shasta County and neighboring far Northern California counties we are legally armed and we will and do stand our ground. So those of you in the blue who elect your liberal politicians, you get what you voted for and you cannot stand your ground because you are not protected. The police stand down. You are not armed. Remember this when you clean up your burned cities and vote in November.

You might think about voting out Newsom and the liberal hacks that are denying you your right to keep and bear arms. Our Sheriff is on our side and we are over 10,000 strong, legally concealed-carry armed citizens. We will not stand and watch our windows broken, our cities burn, and the agitators know this. Red Bluff and Redding are prime examples of how good “red” counties and “red” politicians are. “You get what you vote for”. Wise up or suffer.

A few points of clarification. First, there was no evidence of “Buses of agitators including antifa” being escorted out of town by anyone, let alone the militia.

Second, the real miracle that occurred in Redding on June 2 in front of the Shasta County Courthouse was that none of the black protesters were goaded into fights with militia members, many of whom brought weapons, some of whom taunted the protesters, prompting some of the protest organizers to shout, “Don’t take the bait!”

I credit the protesters, and I credit Redding Police Lt. Mark Montgomery for keeping the peace at an event that could have gone sideways had one protester gotten fed up and reacted to jeers and insults leveled by some militia along the sidelines.

When asked why RPD was there, Montgomery said his goal was to ensure everything stayed peaceful, and there was no vandalism or fights.

“So far, so good,” he said. “We’re here to make sure people have an opportunity to peacefully protest.”

And that’s exactly what happened, no thanks to the militia.

Redding Police Department officers decked out in riot gear face the peaceful protesters. ANC file photo.

I was there that night. The energy in the air was supercharged with tension,  because although it was ostensibly the protesters’ night for a peaceful demonstration, the ominous surly presence of the militia felt intimidating, as if fights could break out any time.

ANC file photo.

It did not feel as if the frowning, cammo-wearing, scowling militia members with crossed arms were there as peace-keepers, but rather, as shit-stirrers and trouble-makers loaded for bear, itching for an excuse to use a weapon.

June 2 Redding protest. ANC file photo.

Back to that Facebook post by the militia member. Notice how he says law enforcement looked upon the militia members as allies. That was exactly the case with Rittenhouse in Wisconsin, where the police essentially deputized the boy earlier, before he opened fire.

And that was the mentality of the cordial working relationship on June 2 between the militia, Redding Police Chief Bill Scheuller and Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini.

Although in the days after the protest, both law enforcement leaders denied inviting the militia to the protest, and denied involving them in official law-enforcement duties that night, they both acknowledged they’d been notified by the militia and Stake in Nor Cal, that members planned to be there. According to both men, neither Magrini nor Schueller had any objections about the militias’ presence at the protest.

I think that’s a grave mistake, for the same reason it was a mistake for 17-year-old kid to be allowed to come to a different city with his weapon to a protest.

As recent stories about officer-involved deaths and shootings have painfully illustrated, even trained officers make mistakes. With that in mind, a protest is no time for amateur hour; no opportunity for every hopped-up wanna-be cop with a concealed weapons permit and a Napoleon complex to show up armed to the teeth and ready for a fight.

Mixing home-grown militia and professionally trained law enforcement in the same setting as supposed “peace-keepers” is a supremely bad idea. It’s a recipe for disaster.

For the record, Lane and others disputed the sheriff’s official version of their communication that night. Lane and some militia members claimed they were in direct contact with Magrini over the course of the evening. For what it’s worth, I believe Lane on this point.

I only mention the June 2 Redding protest because the professional courtesy between local law enforcement and area militia begs the question: What if some armed citizens do stop with the macho talk, take action and use force to get their way during the pandemic? After months of Shasta County law enforcement’s refusal to enforce the COVID rules, could we count on our North State officers to protect citizens from a militia uprising, or would law enforcement take the path of least resistance and look the other way?

Get woke. Take a stand.

Therefore, because there seems no end in sight for all the public health mandates, those self-appointed warriors are pushing back hard, just as they promised they would. Likewise, they’re imploring their fellow brother and sister “patriots” to “get woke” and “take a stand” too. They say there’s a revolution coming, and fellow patriots should stock up on weapons and be prepared to “fight tyranny”.

So far, specifics are scarce with regard to what fighting tyranny would look like, but some Facebook posts touch on the topic.

In the case of a recent message by Jesse Lane, Stake in NorCal co-founder, he calls out for men in particular to quit being pussies and join the fight against what he sees as tyranny.

Stake in NorCal, a predominately conservative community group that’s just a few months old, has more than 4,100 Shasta County members. Photo source: Facebook.

When Shasta County Board of Supervisors meetings get ugly

Many of the citizen patriots have taken their demands to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meetings, despite the fact that most of their demands are being addressed to people who lack the authority to change state executive orders.

During these meetings, a growing mob of enraged, unmasked pandemic deniers converge upon board chambers week after week. During the public comment period, some citizens yell, threaten, shout, scold, shame, lecture and literally point fingers at supervisors and other county staff. The county employees sit there and take it, and even say “thank you” after even the most egregious vituperative speeches.

What’s not displayed in public for all to see are angry threats that land like cowardly stink bombs in public health employees’ emails and voice mail inboxes. I’ve received some of those myself. No surprise, they’re nearly always anonymous.

Most recently, Jesse Lane heaped his wrath squarely upon Supervisor Leonard Moty, to whom Lane referred as the “head of the snake” – adding that he planned to cut off the snake’s head.

Lane also spoke of his “cut off the head of the snake” plan on a Facebook live video.

He also took his threat to the Board of Supervisors chambers last week.

Warning: ‘Shasta County will not be peaceful much longer’

Lane’s buddy Ian Smart, a Stake in Nor Cal co-founder, also had some harsh words for supervisors last week. He opened by saying that the supervisors should feel ashamed of themselves, that he was disgusted by the board’s lack of backbone and their tyrannical overreach. He referred to the supervisors as sheep. He compared them to Nazis.

Here’s an excerpt of his comment that includes some of the most strident threats:

“We have continued to be peaceful in the face of all the lies we’ve been fed and inflated numbers the biased media continues to shove down our throats.

I’m here to tell you those days are about over. The silent majority is standing up  and once we unite you will have control no more. There’s a revolution brewing in this country right now, and its weakness and compliance from small community leaders like yourselves that’s fueling this fire. Shasta County is not going to be peaceful much longer. You either fight with us or you fight against us. God bless. Open the county.”

Smart’s “God bless” seemed an especially incongruent way to close his speech, as if those soft words of kindness could cancel out the essence of his more disturbing warnings:

” … Shasta County is not going to be peaceful much longer. You either fight with us or you fight against us.”

Anti-maskers intimidate, bully Sprouts’ masked employees and shoppers

We discussed the Sprouts event last week, but this video, at about the 20-minute mark, shows the extent of the bullying some pushy patriots inflicted upon Sprouts’ shoppers and staff inside the store.

In this video “Rally Sally” Rapoza can be seen cheerfully putting produce on a clerk’s check-out counter, saying she’s just a shopper who’d love to buy from that store.

She unloads her cart onto the conveyor belt, but because Rapoza’s not wearing a mask, the clerk, following the store’s guidelines, cannot ring up the items. Of course, that’s exactly what Rapoza and her group hoped for, in order to make s stir. The person speaking on the video “Hermit Strawman” (Corey Allen) proceeds to bully and harass the clerk and another store employee. Maskless members of the group can be seen going about the store like they own the place; wheeling shopping carts, picking up items, confronting shoppers who are wearing masks.

Stake in NorCal’s evolution

Stake in NorCal, a Facebook-based organization that’s about three months old, has 4,163 members. In the beginning the group’s founders, including Jesse Lane, insisted the Stake in NorCal members were not militia, just civic-minded folks wanting to help the community. At the time, Lane said that to his knowledge, none of the group’s members carried weapons to the June 2 protest in Redding.

While that may be true, clearly, as we read in one militia member’s Facebook earlier post, some other militia members were armed at the June 2 protest. The night of the protest, militia members were seen in possession of everything from baseball bats to guns and knives.

ANC file photo.

Fast forward to where we are now. Aug. 30. Lane, who back in June came across as as a militia-lite community member more concerned about helping elderly veterans with yard work than calling for a revolution, seems to have changed his tune from hopeful and helpful to frustrated and ticked off.

He now posts videos that tell men they were bred to be courageous warriors, that it’s time for them to “stand up” and quit being “pussies”.

Jesse Lane, co-founder of Stake in NorCal, calls for men to stand up and act as men were created to behave.

A mission with a message

As the shit storm of civil unrest piles up, the North State has become a tinderbox at the ready, on the verge of ignition. Slogans and memes are the kindling. Calls to action, aggression and civil war are often found on the same Facebook pages as family photos, holiday greetings and birthday wishes.

When tyranny becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

You know a civil war is coming. Can’t you feel it?

Too many assholes, not enough bullets.

Some of the more passive discussions dream of creating a new government, of finding a plot of land somewhere where all the patriots could be self-sufficient and free of oppression. They’d grow their own food and build their own homes.

Other posts are more sobering, and not the least bit dreamy. Two recent Facebook threads illustrate some examples. They begin with a distinction between a civil war and a revolution, and then speculate what might happen after the election.

I’ve identified the authors by their initials in these unedited posts.

MH: ” …  But it’s not a Civil War it’s a revolutionary war.”

BF: Only if they or you are looking to make a new country.

MH: At this point I don’t even give a fuck we could just wipe the US out and create a new country and just reset the board.

MH: All I know is we only have to last till November and then all this shit will be over.

BF: Or its just starting

MH: I know where you’re going with this but Facebook is not the place for it all it’s gonna do is come up later.

As bold as many people have been on Facebook posts regarding resisting tyranny, the last comment by MH suggests a shift in thinking, that some warriors are making plans, but away from Facebook where their intentions might be discovered and reported.

Below, some of Lane’s Facebook friends respond to his recent video (see above), in which Lane talks about cutting off the head of the snake – aka, Supervisor Moty.

CK: Gonna take more than a fire.

Only way is to organize and arm the fuck up and take our rights back by force.

Hang the politicians for all to see old school rules.

Supervisor Leonard Moty’s reaction: ‘Consider the source’

As violent as an image cutting off a snake’s head can be, Supervisor Moty is not rattled. He said a certain amount of negative feedback comes with the job. Moty’s a believer in free speech. He said that includes listening to public comments that may be critical.

Besides, Moty added that he is not the only supervisor to take heat from the public. He credits his former RPD police chief career for helping him with his supervisor role.

“I heard and was called worse as a police officer,” Moty said. “Officers need to have thick skin, and it was one of the skills I taught at the police academy. You have to consider the source.”

Moty said that he’s proud of the fact that he and three of the other supervisors are united in the common goal of keeping the public safe, and simultaneously working as hard as possible to do everything within their power as supervisors to open as many businesses as possible, as responsibly as possible.

Of course, the lone supervisor who doesn’t play with with others, who goes rogue and is known as a divider, not a uniter, is none other than District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh, He’s the guy who famously pulled a stunt of getting a haircut from his Cottonwood barber, Woody Clendenen, who also happens to be the leader of the Cottonwood militia.

It is a small world after all.

Supervisors get frustrated, too

For Moty and his fellow united supervisors, the most difficult part of the job isn’t being eviscerated by the public. Instead, one of the greatest sources of frustration is the fact that some of the most vocal and critical commenters basically hit and run. They never stay to see what happens during the rest of the BOS meeting. Moty said that if they did, they’d see how hard supervisors work to open up the county.

“It’s interesting with some of the speakers,” Moty said. “They scream and yell and threaten, and they leave and don’t listen to the rest of the conversation.”

Although the vocal speakers are among the most dramatic, Moty said the yellers don’t speak for everyone. He said the board receives emails from people who encourage the supervisors to not be swayed by the screamers, to do the right thing to keep Shasta County citizens safe.

He is pleased that more citizens have discovered the option of leaving a recorded voicemail message for the board that’s then played during the meeting. This method allows the public to speak without the risk of being bullied or intimidated by other speakers whose opinions may differ from theirs.

Moty said that despite the vocal, critical minority, the board receives many supportive words of encouragement from the community.

Luckily, the positive feedback helps balance the negative comments that involve cutting off snake heads.

“It’s been certainly pretty interesting,” Moty said of the recent public comments that involve raised voices, demands and ultimatums.

“Things have been different the last few months. It comes with the territory, to a degree. But I respect anyone’s opportunity to give their opinion.”

Tempers are high, patience is low

It now seems years since that June 2 protest against racial inequality. Since then, state mandated COVID restrictions have become the primary focus and root cause of so much angst and anger.

Tempers spark and flare higher and higher during the roller coaster ride of businesses are open, now they’re shut, now they’re open again.

There’s a maddening degree of uncertainty and inconsistency, such as the fact that one Shasta County school district may decide to do all distance learning, and other implements a hybrid educational method, while yet another district may opt for full-time, in-person classes. No wonder people feel  frustrated and anxious. Let’s face it; a pandemic is fun for no one.

But even with the good news announced by the governor on Friday that granted Shasta County more flexibility for many businesses come Monday, including restaurants, some patriots are still incensed that any COVID restrictions remain at all. To this group, the only good restriction during the COVID crisis is no restriction. The thing is, unless the novel coronavirus magically disappears overnight, it will be some time before patriots see all our wishes come true, that the horrible new normal will vanish, and the old normal will return.

Will that be grounds for a revolution?

Just one more uncertainty to add to the list.

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 Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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