Rancor, snide comments and sarcasm filled the air Tuesday during the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting as the five-member board split 3-2 to defeat adoption of a Code of Conduct used by 39 other counties, all members of the Rural County Representatives of California.
“For the last three-and-a-half years, I have witnessed a real decline in civility and decorum among members of this board,” stated District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, who has served on the board since January 2017.
She represents the Northeastern Shasta County communities of Southern Bella Vista, Big Bend, Burney, Cassel, Fall River Mills, Hat Creek, McArthur, Montgomery Creek, Oak Run, Old Station, Palo Cedro, Pittville, Southeastern Redding, Round Mountain and Whitmore.
“We need, as a county, to rise above that. This is not a good way to lead this community, and it sets a bad example for our children and grandchildren,” Rickert said in making her case to adopt a 17-item list of suggestions to guide the behavior of elected supervisors on the county’s governing board.
District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye immediately took exception to the word “democratic” included in Item 2, which reads in part, “We subscribe to the concepts of democratic, effective and efficient governance . . .”
Instead, Crye suggested changing the word to “republic.”
Crye also suggested removing 14 of the items since they were already contained in the county’s Employee Handbook, which he read in January when he took office to represent Central and Northern Redding.
“I don’t want to be redundant,” Crye explained.
When Rickert made the motion to accept the Code of Conduct, District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman seconded, prompting more discussion from other supervisors and members of the public. The motion was defeated on a 3-2 vote later in the meeting. Rickert and Garman were the lone yes votes.
During a public comment period, after calling out District 4 Supervisor and board chair Patrick Jones, Crye, and District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom, Shasta County resident Joe Dokes said he “denounces persons who threaten people at board meetings, target women and assault journalists,” adding, “We are bleeding personnel” because of they way employees are treated at meetings.
As Dokes vacated the podium following his 3-minute comment period, he concluded, “There is no room for violence in Shasta County.”
“My Code of Conduct is in my heart. It is the way I was raised,” stated District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom, who represents Anderson, Cottonwood, Happy Valley, Millville, Manton, Shingletown and Viola in the southern and eastern parts of Shasta County.
“Your Code of Conduct is designed to restrict our freedom of speech,” said Dolores Lucero when it was her turn to speak, apparently forgetting the supervisors were discussing a Code of Conduct for members of the governing board only.
“I actually plan to copy and paste a class action lawsuit against you if this motion passes,” Lucero said, addressing Rickert and Garman directly.
“If I were you, I would watch what you say because I can produce evidence,” Lucero continued in a threatening tone.
By way of contrast, Redding resident Susanne Baremore encouraged the board to pass the Code of Conduct as presented.
“Water seeks its own level and we look to you for an example. If you are out in the public promoting rancor and divisiveness, then that is how the public will behave,” Baremore said.
“I understand at least two of you attended a patriots meeting on Thursday where someone was assaulted and no one said or did anything about it,” Baremore said, adding substance to Joe Dokes’ prior reference to the same event.
Citizens for Freedom meeting includes assault upon ANC publisher
While attempting to cover the first meeting of an organization with the working title “citizens for freedom” Thursday evening at the Cottonwood Community Center — a gathering publicly promoted on Facebook — several people targeted A News Cafe publisher Doni Chamberlain from the moment she entered the building until she was eventually escorted from the facility by four Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies who’d arrived in three cruisers.
During the meeting, as a variety of panelists spoke at the front of the room, approximately a half dozen people surrounded Chamberlain at the back of the room where they verbally harassed her, physically prevented her from moving, blocked her from seeing the meeting, and placed their hands and bodies in front of Chamberlain’s cellphone as she attempted to record a Facebook Live post.
One of the key participants was Rebecca Walker, previously identified on A News Cafe as someone who spoke for a group of Proud Boys who arrived for Carlos Zapata’s trial arraignment.
At the same meeting one self-described patriot’s assault upon Chamberlain resulted in her injury for which she later sought treatment at a Redding hospital emergency room.
Chamberlain, a 67-year-old Redding grandmother and journalist for nearly 30 years, was recording the event live on Facebook when Mark Kent forcefully yanked her cellphone camera out of her hands, causing the strap to which it was attached to snap Chamberlain’s neck forward violently enough to cause the injuries, Chamberlain later said.
Viewing Chamberlain’s 7-minute, 56-second Facebook Live video, one can clearly see a room filled with people including a few who faced the camera lens and blocked it with their hands, body or a closeup of one woman’s face.
Midway in the video, one can hear Chamberlain narrating in a calm tone, “I’ve just been asked to leave. Jesse Lane, who organized this event, has ordered me out. He then said he was calling the Sheriff,” she said on the video at about the 4:40 mark.
“I’m not wanted here, but the Cottonwood Community Center is operated by a (federally registered nonprofit) 501(c)(3),” Chamberlain narrates at another point closer to the end.
“My view is this is a publicly advertised event and I am a patriot. I am also a journalist and I am curious what they are about to present here,” the publisher continued.
At the 7:45 mark, a person Chamberlain recognized as Mark Kent, one of the organizers of the Red, White and Blueprint movement which recalled former Shasta County District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty — and a frequent speaker at Board of Supervisors meetings — approached Chamberlain during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Kent ordered Chamberlain to leave the building, and when she refused, he quickly grabbed Chamberlain’s cellphone camera from her hands, and yanked it above Chamberlain’s head, causing the lanyard looped around her neck to snap her head violently forward.
“Hey, Let go! Ow. Let go!” Chamberlain can be heard on the video as the screen showed first the room’s ceiling and then a closeup of Kent’s shirt front with a distinctive wave pattern.
“You’ve been asked nicely to leave,” Kent can be heard as the video nears the end.
“Was that nicely?” Chamberlain clearly responds in a pained voice as the screen goes black.
Several minutes later, after Chamberlain had been encircled by Kent, Walker, Bruce Anderson and others who prevented her from moving freely, four young Sheriff’s Deputies in uniform arrived on the premises and ordered Chamberlain to leave the building on grounds that she was trespassing at a private event.
“I explained to the deputies that I was a journalist at a public meeting, that I had a First Amendment right to be there, that I was there along with everyone else who’d accepted the open invitation on Facebook, that I’d been assaulted by Mark Kent and surrounded by a group who controlled my ability to move inside the building,” Chamberlain said.
“But still, the deputies insisted I was in the wrong, and ordered me outside,” Chamberlain said, adding that the lead deputy later said that had she not complied, she would have been arrested and booked into the Shasta County Jail.
Later, Chamberlain was at a hospital emergency room seeking treatment for her injuries where the lead Deputy Sheriff who’d spoken with Chamberlain, Quintan Ortega, met with her to provide the paperwork she’d requested to initiate charges against Kent, as well as investigations by the Shasta County Sheriff and Shasta County District Attorney into the Thursday night incident.
Five days later, at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, both Crye and Kelstrom reported they’d attended the patriots meeting in Cottonwood.
Chamberlain’s video and narrative also confirmed their presence at the event led by North State militia member Jesse Lane.
A live streaming video of the event by Authur Gorman included moments after the deputies escorted Chamberlain from the building, when Cottonwood Militia leader Woody Clenenden interrupted the panelists to announce on the public address system, “Doni Chamberlain has left the building.”
Gorman’s video shows that Clenenden’s announcement was greeted enthusiastically by applause and whistles, whoops and laughter. Seconds later, Kent strode across the front of the room and was greeted by congratulations, high fives and a hand clasp with State of Jefferson devotee Terry Rapoza.
Monday, Chamberlain was examined by her family doctor, who ordered a CAT scan.
Chamberlain is currently taking some time off from her duties at A News Cafe.