On the night of one of the most significant elections in Shasta County’s history, the important business of processing ballots was interrupted by a group of people who decided election night was the perfect time to demand an audience with Shasta County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen.
Darling Allen was waylaid in the alley behind the elections department by a group of people who wanted answers, and they wanted them now. They crowded around her, peppered her with inquires and questioned her ability to conduct a fair election.
The confrontation occurred minutes after Darling Allen had stepped into the alley with some reporters to point out a surveillance camera one of the election workers had discovered hidden in a tree.
The camo-style game-trail camera is often used by hunters. A small red light showed that the camera was working. It appeared to be pointed directly at the election department’s back door.
The initial consensus by those who saw the camera was it was placed there to spy on the election workers. It was obvious one of the tree’s branches had been recently cut to make way for the device.
After some conversation among reporters and election workers in the alley, someone suggested that perhaps the camera was placed there by the property owner to keep an eye on things in the alley.
At precisely that moment of speculation about that very possibility, a car driven by a precinct worker pulled up with her windows rolled down. The car’s passenger had overheard the conversation, and said that she owned that building. She said the camera was news to her. (Her words — “I own that building” — can be heard at the end of the video above.)
It was during the trail-camera discussion when, out of the dark, came a group of people walking rapidly toward the elections activity where workers were doing intake and processing the ballot drop-offs.
The first wave of people who arrived at the county clerk’s office under the guise of being election “observers” started out in the alley.
I say “guise” because although the group claimed to be there to “observe” the election process, they weren’t observing. Instead, they immediately tore into Cathy Allen Darling with a barrage of questions. The lead interrupters were Authur and Katie Gorman, well known in Shasta County’s last two years of extremism and unrest.
Katie Gorman repeatedly said she wanted “stickers” – to which Darling Allen quipped that she felt as if she were dealing with her 5-year-old granddaughter.
Side note: Katie Gorman’s “I want stickers” demands inspired one bashful Redding artist to create this illustration, proving just how preposterous the situation was.
But I digress.
The alley incident began with raised voices directed at Darling Allen. By the time this Facebook Live video starts, Authur can be heard telling Darling Allen that he wouldn’t touch her.
However, watch the very start of the video, and see the expression on Darling Allen’s face as she looks down toward Authur’s hand.
When Darling Allen objected to what looked like Gorman’s intention to touch her, Gorman turned the tables and said she was, in fact, the one harassing him. “I would never touch you,” he said. “In fact, I would stay 6 feet away from you.”
Gorman spoke those words while standing approximately 6-12 inches from Darling Allen.
The “observer” group grew in number as they moved from the alley to inside through the service entrance door into the large room that was abuzz with election workers going back and forth as they attempted to maneuver around the obstruction of disruptive visitors.
They argued with Darling Allen downstairs, and escalated demands for security “stickers” as Darling Allen patiently explained her office had all kinds of safety and security mechanisms, such as tiny plastic locks with their own numbers. The only way to open a lock is to break it. No matter how many times Darling Allen attempted to assure the intruders that she truly does know what she’s doing, the group continued to hammer her with arguments. All the while workers continued to maneuver carts – “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me” — around and through the mob who seemed oblivious to the fact that Darling Allen, as the county clerk, was supposed to be overseeing one of the most contentious and controversial elections Shasta County’s ever experienced.
The Liberty supporters’ antics were akin to a hospital orderly bursting into an operating room theater to ask the surgeon to stop everything and explain how a heart transplant works, and hey, what kind of scalpel is that?
Much later, once I was home putting this story together, I messaged Darling Allen a question that I assumed she wouldn’t received until the next day. She replied shortly before 3 a.m. from the elections office.
“I have not done any actual work tonight,” she wrote.
Anyone who observed the raucous disruption wrought upon Darling Allen and her staff Tuesday evening would understand exactly why she’d say that.
Although, for the most part, Darling Allen kept her cool in the face of a storm of unfriendly verbal fire, there were moments during the group’s circular interrogation when, clearly, Darling Allen had had enough.
A few times during the course of the evening, some of the group accused Darling Allen of “insulting” them. Once, an exasperated Darling Allen replied, “It’s not insulting if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The group’s intrusion into the election process, buttonholing Darling Allen when she was charged with one of the county’s most crucial tasks that night, was not just obnoxious and uncouth, but illegal.
As Darling Allen said to the evening’s interlopers, where were all these concerned citizens during the previous 29 days of the election process with their burning questions and accusations. For that matter, where were these people a month ago, even a week ago, with their need for immediate attention – ANY other time than on Election Day?
The group next moved their grandstanding upstairs. By then, the ranks included such Red, White and Blueprint leaders as Jon Knight (and his young son) and Carlos Zapata. Also in attendance was the seemingly de facto Erik-Jensen campaign manager Shon Northam, decked out in stars and stripes shorts and a T-shirt decorated with the Red, White and Blueprint logo.
All the while a pair of Shasta County sheriff’s deputies stood watch from the sidelines. When this reporter asked exactly what would it would take for them to intervene, the taller of the deputies responded with one word: “violence”.
He pointed out that it wasn’t illegal to be rude.
However, although it may not be illegal to be rude, it is illegal to interfere with an election. The California penal code has strict guidelines regarding not just election-observation guidelines, but anyone whose interference prevents a public officer or employee from doing their job.
“Every person who, with intent to cause, attempts to cause, or causes, any officer or employee of any public or private educational institution or any public officer or employee to do, or refrain from doing, any act in the performance of his duties.”
According to the California Secretary of State guidelines for election observers, on election night, it’s unlawful for observers to talk to election workers, or attempt to stop poll workers or the central counting site workers while they are processing ballots.
Tuesday’s group violated those rules, and more.
As the evening wore on, a pair of Redding Police Department officers showed up, and stood briefly watching the scene, now joining the pair of Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies. Zapata waved from across the room and said a hearty hello to the male officer and called him by name. The officer smiled broadly.
The officers soon left without incident.
This group’s disruptions, carried out in full view of law enforcement, dragged on for hours. It was still in progress when I finally left around 10:45 p.m. when my camera battery died.
Outside the county clerk’s office, Red, White and Blueprint director Jeremy Edwardson chatted with frequent Board of Supervisor speakers Benjamin Nowain and Jenny O’Connell.
And on the Placer Street end of the alley behind the elections department, District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones and so-called “citizen journalist” Richard Gallardo watched the ballot deliveries from a distance.
Meanwhile, on my Facebook Live posts, people reacted to what they saw unfold in real time. They shared their outrage and disbelief in hundreds of comments.
• They’re interfering….against the observer rules
• Good grief. This is not ok
• They need to go away
• This is way beyond observing. It’s harassment
• Call the police.
• Who ARE these people?
• This is unacceptable!
• So insulting!
• Isn’t there security there?
• Trolls wasting an elected official’s time on the most stressful night of her job.
• Walk away please
• Cathy is keeping her cool way better than I could. These people should have been removed from the building 15 minutes ago.
Who you gonna call?
Early in the evening, before things went sidewalks, Darling Allen and the deputies chatted briefly. It appeared, judging by Darling Allen’s friendly communication with the two deputies assigned to the elections department that that there was a comfortable rapport between the three.
An hour or so later, an entire Facebook Live thread centered around commenters’ disbelief that law enforcement officers failed to enforce election laws that were being broken before deputies’ and police officers’ very eyes. Some commenters even suggested I call the police, or maybe some other reporters would do so — is KRCR there? The Record Searchlight? What a bizarre scenario that would that have been for anyone inside that building to call the police to report election disruption. The deputies were already on the premises. They showed no interest in getting involved.
The deputies were there the entire time, yet they didn’t move an inch to help Darling Allen. Apparently, some commenters did eventually call 911, which explains that pair of laid-back Redding Police officers who basically came and went.
Is anyone surprised that neither branch of Shasta County law enforcement stepped in to help Darling Allen; to clear the premises of those interfering with her ability to do her job?
Just add Tuesday’s Shasta County election-night incident to the pile of evidence of lax law enforcement involvement amassed over the last two years: Un-enforced pandemic mandates. A Sheriff-approved rodeo when large gatherings were forbidden. Not batting an eye when Bethel-Church affiliated Christian rock star Sean Feucht lied to the city and Turtle Bay for his mob scene/concert under the Sundial Bridge. Standing idly by as multiple speakers openly threatened supervisors during meetings. Allowing two rouge supervisors to breach closed board chambers multiple times. Being MIA as Supervisor Patrick Jones hosted a private big-screen TV party on county party. There are many other examples, but those are the highlights.
The pattern here is that Shasta County law enforcement has consistently turned a blind eye to extremist bullies and blatant law-breakers.
“We the people” — as Liberty Committee folks like to say — have learned to not rely upon law enforcement’s assistance when it comes to standing up to Shasta County’s extremists. We’ve learned by experience that we’re on our own. Perhaps whomever becomes sheriff will work on that. Or not. Don’t get your hopes up.
But who knows? Maybe miracles do happen. If you don’t believe it, look no further than last night’s election results. Step aside Liberty Committee. Shasta County’s true patriots want their county back.
This story was updated for clarity and corrections at 3:30 p.m. on June 8, 2022.