Tianna Arata is a twenty year old Black Lives Matter activist living in San Luis Obispo, California. Arata has been the leader of many protests in San Luis Obispo. Her goal throughout these protests comes from nothing but good intentions. She wishes to help those who are discriminated against because of the color of their skin. Her main goal is for the injustices against the black community to come to light, and for them to be stopped. In an interview with The Tribune, Arata spoke about how she has felt like an outsider for most of her life, and is motivated to prevent others from feeling the same way.
The young activist was arrested on July 21st during a protest against racial injustice and police brutality. The protest took place in Mitchell Park, and moved up into Highway 101 where protesters began a blockade. The entire time things were peaceful, until District Attorney Dan Dow put out a “public safety alert” on Twitter saying that things were “unlawful and incredibly dangerous.”
Uneasiness spread throughout Highway 101. A silver sedan tried to make its way through the protesters and, in turn, hit an innocent man. There, a breaking point was reached. Protesters began smashing the car’s windows in outrage. After the incident, the San Luis Obispo Police Department released edited footage of a group of protesters being hit by a grey vehicle near the intersection of Chorro and Pacific streets. The car barely missed Tiana Arata and other protesters. The police department then distributed a news release looking for the identification of the car’s driver, calling them a “vandalism victim.”
As protesters were packing up their equipment for the day, police singled out Tianna Arata, and began her arrest. In a disturbing video by The Tribune, protesters are seen shouting at police as Arata is arrested. At the time of the arrest, Arata yells, “I’m not resisting,” as she is put into a cop car. Allegedly, the officers waited for most people to leave the area before taking action. Was this so less people would witness an unlawful arrest? It was not only the arrest of a prominent voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, but also of a young woman who had been protesting racial discrimination since age fourteen.
Tianna Arata now has eight criminal charges: five felonies, and three misdemeanors. These charges are not yet in effect, which means that Arata faces no penalty as of now.
Many people are trying to spread awareness about the situation that Tianna Arata now faces. People are saying to email the city’s district attorney, city manager, and the county sheriff of San Luis Obispo. There currently is a petition on Change.org that requires 500,000 signatures to demand that San Luis Obispo’s district attorney not press charges against Arata. As of now, it has over 400,000 signatures. Tianna Arata will face fifteen years in prison if the district attorney presses charges, and the Black Lives Matter movement will lose an important figure.