Photo Courtesy of Instagram/Tianna.Isis

On July 21, 2020, San Luis Obispo police department arrested activist Tianna Arata for rioting, unlawful assembly, conspiracy, unlawful imprisonment, and resisting arrest. There are also videos that show that Tianna was not resisting arrest.

At the time of the arrest, Arata and others were loading up their car after they had completed a protest that she had helped organize.

Prior to the protest, Arata spoke with Police Chief Deanna Cantrell and told her that the protest would be peaceful, according to the press release. Leaders of the protest communicated to the group of about 300 participants that safety and peace were top priorities.

There was a moment between protesters and motorists, and some people yelled at the crowd.

“Protesters damaged the hood of a passenger vehicle and smashed the rear window where a 4 year-old child was in the back seat and had glass shattered on him,” according to the press release.

The press release does not say that Arata incited or had knowledge of this destruction.

“The decision to arrest Arata was made in coordination with the District Attorney’s Office based on Arata’s actions and the actions of the organized group,” the press release read.

A twitter user, Nicole Huffman posted a clip of the vehicle trying to ram the peaceful protestors on the freeway.

According to Def Pen, “During demonstrations, the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) role is to safeguard lives, protect state property, prevent demonstrators from getting onto the freeways, and assist allied agencies when asked,” San Luis Obispo CHP writes.

“Freeways are simply not safe or suitable for protest activity. It is not only illegal for pedestrians to get onto the freeway, it is especially dangerous and puts protestors, motorists, onlookers, and first responders at great risk of serious injury or death,” local law enforcement adds.

Despite these concerns, attendees and California residents say that they worked with law enforcement and dispersed from the highway when asked to do so. California resident Stephanie Stackhouse added that “the press release from the SLO PD on events leading up to the arrest omits important facts to create a false narrative depicting the protesters as promoting violence.”

Arata is now facing eight charges against her following a protest which took place in late July. The San Luis Obispo PD wants county prosecutors to charge Arata for four felony counts of false imprisonment; one felony count of conspiracy; one count of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, a misdemeanour; one count of inciting a riot, a misdemeanour; and one misdemeanour count of unlawful assembly.

Tianna Arata could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on these charges. The link to Tianna GoFund me page is here.