Tiana Arata is a BLM activist who organized a rally San Luis Obispo in California on July 21st. Over 300 people attended the rally. It was initially held at the park but moved to Highway 101 later on as the protest continued. San Luis police department says, that once the protestors were on the highway it,
“resulted in significant public safety risks for protesters and community members.”
Police stated that protestors got into fights with motorists on the highway and damaged vehicles. The protestors denied the allegations. They stated that motorists accelerated their cars toward the peaceful protestors and even one vehicle hit Tianna Arata. One protestor who was present posted video of a car driving directly at protestors.
#freetianna there was NO imprisonment on the freeway and the car that “had a 4 year old in the back” ACCELERATED INTO PROTESTORS FIRST. the freeway portion of the march was peaceful and occupying the roadway does not give ANYONE the right to use a car as a DEADLY WEAPON!!! pic.twitter.com/fHMsQ4vU2d
— nicole huffman (@nicoleahuffman) August 10, 2020
Police waited until the rally had dispersed and then decided to arrest Tianna when she was with her mother and friends cleaning the park. She has been charged with five felony charges, including four felony counts of false imprisonment, and one felony count of conspiracy. She was also charged with three misdemeanor charges; resisting or obstructing a peace officer, inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly. If convicted she could face up to 15 years in prison. Video of the arrest has been went viral on Twitter. Defenders on Tianna claimed that she was not resisting arrest as 6 police officers were forcefully dragging her away as she wanted to know why she was being arrested.
— Sarah Baska (@SarahBaska) August 10, 2020
An online petition with change.org has been created to demand charges be dropped against the 20 year old activist. The hashtag #FREETIANNA has been going viral and the petition now has over 200,000 signatures.
The petition states,
The subsequent 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. Tianna and other protest leaders have led numerous peaceful protests over the past several months. It’s clear that the SLO County District Attorney and SLO PD are using the arrest of Tianna as a political statement to try and suppress their first amendment right to protest. Tianna’s arrest and charges were unjust. Our community should come together to support her and her family. Protect our young black lives movement leaders right to protest and demand that the district attorney not pursue any charges against Tianna Arata. Our young black leaders deserve to be heard, seen, and supported.
Arata spoke with The Tribune and discusses the impact the arrest has had on her.
It’s deteriorating me.Mentally as well as physically because I don’t get good rest. I’m waking up in the middle of the night. I just turned 20 last month, there’s so much that I want to accomplish. And I’ve been through so much struggle in my life that dealing with this, it’s just, like, I want to be able to overcome it and to go on to the new steps of my life.
In addition to the online petition, a GoFundMe account was set up to help Tiana pay for legal fees. The goal amount was for $10,000 and has been surpassed bringing in $33,000. The remaining proceeds will be donated as bail funds for other social justice activists who may be arrested.