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Fear Factor: Shasta County’s Silent-Majority War Against the Recall

Editor’s note: This column contains some graphic, violent language. A subhead will identify that section for those who wish to skip over it. 
***

As I write, unwelcome strangers’ vehicles are parked outside the residence of a Shasta County  community leader, someone despised by the Red White & Blueprint folks and friends who plan to recall three Shasta County supervisors.

“We know where you live.” – Carlos Zapata

As I write, there is a team of a dozen or so concerned, rational community members who are leading the charge to stop the recall of Shasta County Supervisors. “Shasta Forward – Reject the Recall” is the organization’s name. Its Facebook page was unveiled Thursday with this description:

“Shasta County Supervisors have been targeted for a recall. Shasta Forward was created to support our county supervisors Mary Rickert, Joe Chimenti and Leonard Moty and prevent the recall efforts. Say NO to anyone pushing a petition for the recall. Sign up to stand with our supervisors. Donate to fight this wasteful effort.”

On Friday I left a private Facebook message on the Shasta Forward page seeking answers to questions about the group, its mission and plans; just the basic who, what, where, when, why and how of it all.

In my nearly 30 years as a journalist I’ve never run across a situation quite like this: An organization goes public with a campaign, yet none of the members of the organization are willing to go on the record with their identities. Instead, collectively, members of the Shasta Forward group prefer to be known as “the team”.

These are not bashful people. They’re a diverse group of intelligent, well-connected community members; a mix of different walks of life and political parties. They share a desire to stop the recall. However, Shasta Forward team members are concerned that if their names are known, they’ll be at risk for suffering threats — or worse — by Red White & Blueprint followers who are hell-bent on recalling Joe Chimenti, Leonard Moty, and Mary Rickert.


“We know who your family is.” – Carlos Zapata

Their concerns are well-founded. Here in Shasta County, many people on such Facebook pages as “Thought You Should Know – Shasta County” do not use their real names after experiencing threats, intimidation and doxxing.

A few times each week someone describes me as brave for having the “courage” to write about some of Shasta County’s most extreme characters, some of whom have made overt and veiled threats. My philosophy is that if I’m so afraid to not write about something or someone, then that’s exactly what I should be writing about. It doesn’t mean I don’t take threats seriously, or that I haven’t taken steps to ensure my safety inside and outside my home, because I have.

This is a good moment to share a video clip that exhibits Red White & Blueprint leader Carlos Zapata’s frame of mind, and how he sees violence as a way to get what he wants.

No wonder some people would rather remain beneath Zapata’s radar.

Speaking of threats, recently Carlos Zapata, Red White and Blueprint leader, slammed his hand on the table of a woman eating dinner with her husband at a Palo Cedro restaurant. Then Zapata got in the woman’s face and accused her of saying negative things about him. Restaurant employees and customers were stunned. Nobody challenged Zapata. Zapata’s bullying worked. Bingo. Mission accomplished. Intimidation.

Those kinds of stories only serve to heighten Shasta County residents’ fear factor that’s escalated in the last year as speakers inside supervisor chambers escalated their angry rhetoric, demands and threats.

At some point even the most rational, easy-going people wonder when threats are just words, and when threats cross over into promises of intent.

Who you gonna call?

Shasta County Sheriff Magrini.

To compound the problem, there’s the issue of not knowing which side law enforcement is on; regular citizens’ or militia and extremists groups’?

It didn’t help instill confidence in Shasta County law enforcement when Sheriff Eric Magrini and Redding Police Chief Bill Schuller both issued statements early on in the pandemic that they wouldn’t enforce state COVID mandates. Basically, it was like telling citizens we were on our own, and we couldn’t look to them for help with regard to COVID-19 enforcement.

And then there was the unforgettable June 2 protest against racial inequality in Redding, when hundreds of militia members showed up, and later swore they were in contact with the sheriff during the protest. Both Schuller and Magrini said no, they were not in contact with any militia members during the protests. Yes, they were aware militia groups would be there, but no, they weren’t invited, per se.

Still, nearly a year later, militia leaders like Woody Clendenen of Cottonwood proudly claim police were glad for the militia’s help during the (peaceful) summer protests. Heck, in Red Bluff, Clendenen said police got out of their vehicles so they could pose for photos with the militia members, as if they were celebrities.

What’s more, during a speech Clendenen gave at a church, he told the audience the Redding police told him that if it hadn’t been for the militia at the June 2 protest, Redding police would have “gassed” the protesters. I kept waiting to hear from RPD asking me to make a correction, but I heard nothing.

And when Magrini was asked by then-chair Supervisor Rickert to please ask the crowd in the lobby (with the bullhorn) to quiet down so they could conduct the meeting, Magrini instead entered the lobby, smiled broadly, chatted with the bullhorn holder Elissa McEuen, and said he’d call her later.

And remember that moment when Carlos Zapata the star was born when he lambasted the supervisors and the video went viral? Before Zapata began speaking, he turned and addressed the sheriff all friendly like, saying hi, it was nice to see the sheriff.

For a more recent example the law enforcement/militia bromance, this month, before the board of supervisors meeting in which intent-to-recall paperwork was delivered to supervisors, the pair of on-duty Shasta County Sheriffs hugged Zapata.

Finally, it’s known that Zapata has taught jujitsu and other similar techniques to law enforcement agents for years. On Facebook Zapata openly told law enforcement what he expected from them.

Clendenen joked during a speech how the very Alcohol Beverage Control agents who were supposed to be enforcing COVID mandates worked out at Zapata’s studio.

I will say that when I made a report to RPD about an email threat (see below), I received a prompt email reply from Chief Schuller who said an officer would follow up. Two officers did contact me, and asked questions, but both said they couldn’t identify the person who wrote the message. I got a nice letter from the Shasta  County District Attorney’s office saying sorry I was the victim of a crime.

All that aside, I know I’m among a growing number of Shasta County citizens who have dwindling faith in many police officers and deputies’ ability to remain fair and objective. Are they buddies with militia members? Will they take my call seriously if I’m trouble, especially at the hands of a militia member?

I’m reminded of a Facebook post last year by former Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko who commented on a story about right-wing protesters converging upon the governor’s private residence.

Bosenko, whose retirement and recommendation of Magrini is how Magrini effortlessly landed his current job of sheriff, said something to the effect of officers should just be unavailable to take that call.

And that’s the very mindset I’m afraid of.

Totally illogical recall

A lone “No Recall” protester stands outside the board chambers while supervisors were being served with intent to recall papers. Photo by Steve DuBois.

This recall attempt is pure insanity on so many levels. The three supervisors being threatened with recall are all staunch Republicans and Second-Amendment supporters. All three own guns. Chimenti and Moty were both police officers, and Moty was Redding’s former police chief. Rickert is a rancher. Neither of the three are socialists, commies, Marxists, criminals, liberal snowflakes, libtards or any other crazy titles bestowed upon the trio of supervisors by RW&B and their followers.

Standing room only as the elated, unmasked crowd enjoys the circuslike atmosphere in board chambers where intent-to-recall papers were presented. Photo by Steve DuBois.

The supervisors’ ostensible crimes worthy of recall are supposedly related to the supervisors’ compliance with public health COVID mandates.

If anything, the supervisors should receive medals of valor for enduring a year’s worth of mental torment, verbal assault, and bizarre incidents during their meetings’ public comment period. Those events include, but are not limited to, an attempted citizen’s arrest, bullhorns, cow bells, shouts, obscenities, and yes, threats.

Some Shasta County staff members have also endured horrific verbal mistreatment in similar ways, dished up by the same maskless masses. Some county employees have had their home addresses published on social media. Others have received threats, both written and in phone messages.

So many demands. So many complaints. So much baloney.

Elissa McEuen bullhorns her speech through the closed supervisor chamber doors, directly in front of the county sign that explains the new state mandated COVID-19 meeting rules. Source: Screen grab video from Redding Patriots Facebook page.

OPEN THE SCHOOLS!

(They’ve been open for months.)

OPEN THE RESTAURANTS!
(Most Shasta County bars and restaurants ignored state mandates and remained open.)

OPEN THE GYMS!
(Some gyms never closed.)

OPEN THE BOARD CHAMBERS! (Spoken by people who never expressed interest in attending in-person board meetings until COVID shut the doors. And yes, the board chambers have been open for more than three months.)

RETURN THE CHAMBER SEATS!
(The seats were re-installed.)

REMOVE THE PLEXIGLASS!
(Done. Gone.)

Elissa McEuen, seen above with a bullhorn, appeared in a FOX News broadcast in which the interviewer painted the pathetic plastic picture of poor Elissa, living in a place where everything is closed. Gosh, where do you go out to eat? Poor thang.


McEuen played her pitiful part, despite the fact that Shasta County never experienced the kinds of shutdowns ordered by our governor. Gov. Newsom issued mandates, but people like McEuen gave the one-finger salute, and refused to comply with anything related to the pandemic.

Here’s some of what McEuen said:

Yeah, and the citizens of Shasta County are, we’re fed up. From the very beginning, back in March and April of 2020, we said, we’re not Los Angeles, we’re not San Francisco. We’re rural, Northern California. We deserve a tailored health plan for our county. And we haven’t received that. Everything has been done in this centralized Sacramento, the overly bureaucratic government. And they’re dictating what our county is doing. It’s inappropriate for our county. And the problem is our county board of supervisors has allowed that to happen. They haven’t protected us from this overreach by our state government.

McEuen and her kindred spirits refused to comply, but then howled their protests when COVID numbers rose, sending Shasta County into more restrictive tiers. They seemed oblivious to the concept of consequences.

If anything, many of the lead characters in the RW&B project benefitted from the pandemic. Cottonwood militia leader/barber Woody Clendenen, and Palo Cedro bull businessman/Tehama County bar and restaurant owner Carlos Zapata both brag that business is booming for them.

Likewise, Patrick Jones, Shasta County District 4 Supervisor, who’s working to recall three of his colleagues, has said that his family’s gun shop that he manages has profited during the pandemic, too.

COVID was convenient for all these these people; serving as a camel’s nose under the tent that sniffed out a way to attain their true goal: a total gut job of our current governmental process, and with it any laws and rules they dislike, starting with ditching the long, “intrusive” arm of public health, and with it, the department’s director and staff.

They claim the recall is about the Constitution and freedom, but when they say freedom, what they really mean is the freedom to ignore public health rules, and the freedom to pick and choose the laws they want, and the freedom to reap the benefits of PPP funds and stimulus checks, but criticize the very leaders who made all that possible.

Strangely, one of the most prominent Red White & Blueprint leaders, Woody Clendenen,  Cottonwood barber and militia leader who boasts more than 1,000 militia-members strong, doesn’t even live in Shasta County. Clendenen lives in Tehama County, so it’s a mystery why he’s so committed to unseating three Shasta County Supervisors.

Zapata and Clendenen’s economic business windfalls have been helped along by their notoriety, and the fact they didn’t comply with state mandates.

In their perfect Shasta County, we’d be an open-carry region, so the roughly 10,000 folks who are licensed to carry concealed weapons can display their firearms in full view of Walmart, God and everyone.

The people behind the recall include RW&B players and a host of splinter groups, such as the State of Jefferson, New California State, North State militia, and some Christian zealots, like Bethel mega-church top guns Sean Feucht, Beni Johnson and Leah Valenzuela. And don’t forget Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, who’s also a fan of the Red White & Blueprint agenda.

From left: Barber/militia leader Woody Clendenen, Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, former KRCR-TV reporter Courtney Kreider, RW&B star/actor/producer/restaurant-owner/bull businessman Carlos Zapata, and Bethel-megachurch-affiliated music producer Jeremy Edwardson Photo source: Facebook.

Warning: Graphic, disturbing content

I’m sharing some messages I’ve received lately that I had not planned on making public. Today I decided to publish these messages in response to whose who minimize the threats, or believe the fears are baseless, or that people like me, R.V., supervisors Rickert, Moty and Chimenti and others are paranoid, or overreacting.

I share these messages because flooding them with light helps reduce their sting. I share these messages because the threats are real, and those who fear fallout have every right to feel nervous.

And that’s one of the things that bothers me most about this Red White and Blueprint movement. Bad actors, people like Zapata and Clendenen and supervisors Jones and Baugh all act innocent, as if they’re just wantin’ to live the American dream, and media is making them out to be bad guys. They’d have us believe they are awesome human beings.

Awesome human beings don’t bully. Awesome human beings don’t intimidate and slam hands on restaurant tables. Awesome human beings don’t attempt to destroy the very place they thought was so fantastic that they moved here from somewhere else.

Awesome human beings don’t write emails like the ones below, just because they disagree.

Here’s a text version of it, in case the email is difficult to read.

“Subject: Smashing your disgusting kike face with a baseball bat
From: naturtheateralhena@protonmail.com

All the kikes who set the arson fires are getting their arms and legs broken, and for a disgusting old frigid piece of dog shit like, I am going to smash every tooth out of your vile obsolete marxist kike skull, pour gasoline down your snout, and burn you in the street like the vile, lying marxist piece of animal shit that you are.

I am watching you bitch, and I will wait for my opportunity to give you the 6 mandatory shots to the head that a disgusting fucking hag like you needs.”

And more messages, some from outside the area:

And another:

A News Cafe reporter R.V. Scheide has also received threats, some of which he’s reported to law enforcement.

And of course, we have hundreds of screen grabs from familiar names; Shasta County characters associated with the Red White and Blueprint project, and its goal to “drain the swamp”,  recall the majority of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, and replace them with folks who think and behave more like them.

Imagine, for a moment, five county board chairs filled with people like Zapata, McEuen, the Rapozas, Jesse Lane and Vladislav Davidzon.

God help us.

Let me pause here and tell a funny story. On Saturday R.V. Scheide and I were guests on Christian Gardinier’s progressive radio talk-show program, “Common Ground”. It was a lot of fun. Christian was a gracious host, and R.V. and I are a good match. (He’s got a great radio voice.) Anyway, Zapata called in, and in classic no-impulse-control Carlos fashion, he was quickly booted from the call after dropping an F-bomb, (Listeners didn’t hear it because of the delay.)

Militia-lite Stake in NorCal leader Jesse Lane called in, and whined that the FBI had paid him a visit because he’d been reported for something he’d written about me on Facebook, to which I replied, “Good!”

Then Lane tried to justify what he’d written, and said something about what he was really saying is I should leave California, as if a militia-led Doni-Chamberlain-relocation program was something positive. What was most fascinating is that he would try to alter something he wrote, forgetting about the screen grabs that showed exactly what he said, and exactly what he meant.

I digress.

More social media nuggets, expressed by those who want the recall:


And finally, this message from Zapata, written two days before the attack on our nation’s Capitol. Leading up to the insurrection that took place on Jan. 6, Zapata said he would have gone, but he chose to stay home to take care of the women and children; don’t cha know.

Videos showcase key players in recall movement

Those who’ve hitched their wagons to Zapata and friends; who’ve been twitterpated by the slickly produced Red White & Blueprint videos, should take a hard look at the people they’re following. They should sit back and watch some other videos and see and hear for themselves evidence of who these people are, what they do and what they say.

The short film clips I post here today are excerpts from longer videos that feature some RW&B ringleaders, as well as those who’ve delivered verbal attacks since last year against supervisors, county staff and public health professionals during public comment periods

Those  featured in the videos below are Carlos Zapata, Woody Clendenen, Elissa McEuen, Vladislav Davidzon, Richard Gallardo, Terry Rapoza and “Rally Sally” Rapoza.

This is just a sample of videos that showcase some of the most prominent players, many of whom have taken exception to being described as ‘extremists”– which is like a vulture taking exception to being called a bird.

Rally Sally Rapoza: About masks
Terry Rapoza: Premises protected by militia
Richard Gallardo: “You are under arrest!”
Elissa McEuen: “Carlos Zapata will come help out …” (Watch for the wink.)
Vladislav Davidzon: “It does not matter how many people get sick or die”
Vladislav Davidzon: Supervisor Mary Rickert is “a failed mother”
Woody Clendenen: “Don’t think we’re going to forget who you are”
Woody Clendenen: “I have 500 friends who can come stand in front of your business.”
Woody Clendenen: “What if there was 10 million Californians in the militia?”
Jesse Lane: “You don’t want us to fuckin’ use it …”
Jesse Lane: “Some of us are even ready to do violence …”
Carlos Zapata: “Militia is a kinetic force”
Carlos Zapata: “We’re the sons of bitches in charge …”
Carlos Zapata: “The whole fat-shaming thing? Bring it back.”
Carlos Zapata: “What if we all got guns and went to the Capitol …”
Carlos Zapata: “We know where you live. We know who your family is. We know your dog’s name.”
Why show and tell?

It’s unpleasant to watch videos like the ones here. It’s uncomfortable to read posts and screen grabs that highlight dark, ugly places. But these videos and screen grabs are important because they illustrate the caliber of individuals who are leading this recall.  They’ve replaced civility, common sense and a love of community with chaos, destruction, turmoil, ego, exaggeration and extremism.

We can do better when we know better. We now know exactly what we’re dealing with, and the identities of the bad actors and players. This is our opportunity to do something about it. To sit by silently and hope it will just go away is not an option.

Onward and Forward Shasta!

One thing I found peculiar on the Shasta Forward Facebook page, and that’s the reference to a message from Jake Mangas, CEO of the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce. See if you notice anything odd.

Redding Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jake Mangas

Jake Mangas, CEO of Redding Chamber of Commerce weighs in: “Local Leadership’s Decision to Educate, Not Enforce. Certain members of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors have faced unspeakable criticism from some in our community perpetuating the notion that they have forced businesses to close. From my view, they have really done the opposite. Their decision from the beginning to educate and not enforce the state’s mandates, has allowed more businesses to stay open and survive.”

Do you see what I see? But first, I’ll give Mangas the benefit of the doubt and consider that his message was created by him and his team for the least amount of blowback, just in case some chamber members are for the recall, and walking that tightrope over the membership that surely includes folks on both sides of the issue. There was no mention of the supervisors by name. But what really struck me was no mention of his position on the recall. He didn’t say  “no” to the recall. I like Jake, but in this situation his statement is bland beige when what we need now is a five-alarm fire-engine-red unambiguous, unequivocal message: REJECT THE RECALL! NO TO THE RECALL!

Something along those lines. This is no time for fence-sitting. Which side of the fence are you on?

Either way, I’m patiently waiting for Shasta Forward’s team to email me their answers to my questions. I know there will be no names attached. I’m cool with that. It’s unorthodox, but we’re living in unorthodox times, which calls for unorthodox measures.

We’re so weary. I get it. Shasta County has been through a lot the last few years: catastrophic fires, freak snow storms, and, of course, the pandemic. But Shasta County is at a crossroads, and we have some crucial choices. We can pull the car over to a grassy meadow and take a well-deserved rest. We can focus on the positive and hope with all our heart that this Red White and Blueprint blow away like a dirty tumbleweed. We can take bets on whether it will fail.

Or we can recognize and respond to this recall effort as the toxic, destructive  invader it is. We’re at war, and like it or not, residents must fight for all that’s good and right about Shasta County, or risk losing it.

Our weapons are wisdom, cooperation, creativity, information and intellect. No bullhorns or bullets necessary. No yelling necessary. We can all whisper the same words together — united, tens of thousands of us – and when we do it will sound like a resounding roar.

Those words? Reject the recall.

***
Special thanks and gratitude to Rita James, a smart, talented, tenacious woman who assisted me with this story by editing videos down to manageable viewing lengths for use in this column. I appreciate her very much. Additional recognition goes to the Facebook page, Thought You Should Know – Shasta County, as an invaluable resource.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is 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 lives in Redding, California.

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