Editor’s note: The following victim’s statement was written by Nathanial Pinkney; read aloud by him late Thursday afternoon during the sentencing hearing in Shasta County Superior Court for co-defendants Carlos Zapata, Elizabeth Bailey, and Christopher Meagher. A jury found the three guilty on five out of the six charges against them.
When I first posted the parody content about Mr. Zapata, it was simply that. We had opposing political views, so I did what millions of other people do with their political opposition: I made jokes about him.
When Mr. Zapata saw me at All Stars, his first reaction to my satire was to try to physically fight me. To hear him tell it, he was the one who decided to be magnanimous and instead find friendly common ground. But anyone who has had their own negative experiences with Mr. Zapata would know better. Our rapport lasted for a while, but eventually he wasn’t just a guy who said some crazy things and went viral, instead he was emerging as a leader in a local political movement that needed to be talked about. That was when I made the Buford White videos. Everyone here knows the rest of that story.
What would like to talk about, is how the actions of not only these three individuals, but also how the words of local law enforcement, county supervisors, and Mr. Zapata’s base of followers has affected my life since Tuesday, May 4th. First, after the incident at the restaurant, Mr. Zapata contacted my boss immediately in the beginning of what would become an extended campaign to turn my life completely upside down. My now-former boss believed every word Mr. Zapata told him and fired me the next day.
Elizabeth Bailey originally tried to claim that I went and attacked her. I was shocked by that. She even went as far as contacting people to make claims against me, something Mr. Zapata did as well, all to try to turn people against me and further damage any public image I could have.
The initial press release by RPD’s Sgt. Rob Garnero, which has still not been retracted, caused an explosion of harassment toward me in this community. I received many hateful messages, everything from simply calling my honesty and credibility into question, all the way up to racial slurs, stalking, attempting to dox me, and creating fake profiles impersonating me. At least one person, if not a group of people, started creating a slew of fake profiles on multiple social media platforms to constantly mock me, my appearance, my perceived sexuality, my race, my employment status, my family life. At one point, they even stooped as lost as finding a photo of my African American father and peppering it with stereotypes. Some people hid behind anonymity, but others were right out there in the open. I have had people threaten me both online and in person.
Just a few weeks ago a woman actually tried to physically attack me, and the person she was with was a man I recognized as friends with Mr. Zapata, who shouted to me, “talk shit, get hit,” a comment I’ve read and heard many times in connection with articles about this case.
It’s not easy to find housing right now, and I was in the midst of getting ready to move in with a coworker, who instead ended up testifying against me in this trial for a chance at a moment in the limelight. I was afraid to get a new job right away because I did not want to risk another situation like May 4th, particularly after Mr. Zapata’s very public vow that I would “never work in Shasta County” again. I’ve had to be secretive about my daily life out of fear that someone would come along looking to show their loyalty to Mr. Zapata by attacking me. One of Mr. Zaptat’s followers started calling and emailing my lawyer with insane tirades about me being on drugs, her assessment of my mental health, and suggested it would be better if I moved out of town and “go back to Portland” a place in which I have never resided.
The Red White and Blueprint literally incorporated me into their documentary, a move which I believe may carry civil liability. Every time they would refer to the case, it would stir up more hatred toward me from their sycophants. I was publicly called a domestic terrorist by Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones, who has been closely affiliated with the Red White and Blueprint and showed up to at least one court appearance with Mr. Zapata.
Another Shasta County Supervisor and outspoken Carlos fan, Les Baugh, also went out of his way to support the misleading press release written by Sgt. Garnero, and caused further harassment towards me by sharing it to his Facebook page with his own personal comments maligning me, and falsely referring to the inaccurate press release as the actual police report, just as many others supporting the defendants have. And just in case you don’t remember, Mr. Zapata completely denied even knowing Mr. Meagher or Miss Bailey in the beginning of all this.
The defense had ONE goal, and it was certainly NOT to prove the defendants’ innocence in this matter, but rather to convince the jury that I was such a, to quote Mr. Zapata directly, “classless monkey” that i deserved what their clients did to me on video, and that their crimes were justified. Never before have I seen a defense attorney make up super powers to justify a client’s crimes. I have First Amendment rights. I have Second Amendment rights. Just like every other non-felon American, I am allowed to exercise my First Amendment WITHOUT fear of being physically attacked, and I am ALSO allowed to exercise my Second Amendment rights when I AM being physically attacked and legitimately feel like my life is in danger, even if I didn’t vote for the same person you did.
I know you won’t, but I hope you all one day realize what horrible people you three are. Your actions didn’t only affect me. The public practically gave you three a pass when it came to me, and I think that emboldened the two of you, Elizabeth Bailey and Christopher Meagher, to brutally attack elderly, deaf veteran Robert Hazel. I hope Mr. Hazel will receive full and complete justice for what these violent people did to him as well. Myself and several others were able to raise over $2,000 for Mr. Hazel to help cover expenses incurred at the hands of Mr. Meagher and Miss Bailey.
This verdict came after the hard work by the DA’s office, the patience of a very fair judge, and many efforts by the defense to create legal issues completely out of thin air to prevent their clients from being convicted, and even after a COVID outbreak threatened to end deliberations in a mistrial, the jurors came back and found these three GUILTY.
I would like to thank those people who looked past any political differences or disagreements they might have with me, and saw the CLEAR evidence that brought us here. I would like to say thank you to my attorney Lisa Jensen for the countless hours she has put in, the District Attorney for deciding to file these necessary charges, to her deputies Nolan Weber, Anthony Miller and Sarah Murphy, to the jurors who patiently went through this process and upheld the meaning of justice for ALL. As difficult as this has been, the end result is in my mind an overwhelming victory for myself, for the integrity of this country, and for the freedom to have a dissenting opinion. Thank you.