/  08.13.2020

California officials have responded to “misinformation,” slamming claims that Black Lives Matter activist Tianna Arata faces 15 years in prison following a protest she organized in San Luis Obispo.

Arata was arrested and booked on a total of eight charges — four felony counts of false imprisonment , one felony count of conspiracy, resisting or obstructing a peace officer, inciting a riot and unlawful assembly. She was released without bail.

When social media got word of her arrest, users rallied in support of her with the hashtag #FREETIANNA, a petition with 275,000 signatures and a request that the DA not pursue criminal charges against her.

Amid the information surfacing the internet were claims that she faced 15 years in prison. San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow, however, denied this statement, arguing prosecutors haven’t yet decided whether they’ll be filing any criminal charges.

According to Dow, the DA will take a thorough look into social media posts, video evidence and witness statements, warning an additional investigation is possible. 

In a statement made by the San Louis Obispo Police Department, they claimed Arata informed officers she’d be organizing a protest ahead of time. There was supposedly an understanding between she and Police Chief Deanna Cantrell that the protest would be peaceful and would not spill onto highways. Cantrell claims, however, the opposite was true. Instead, she says Arata, who she referred to as “the aggressor” and 300 supporters blocked traffic on Highway 101 and smashed vehicles in the process.

Despite the officer’s charges against Arrata he clarified the DA’s are responsible for the final decision. He also warned the “public pressure for a particular outcome will not be considered in making a charging decision.”

Arrata awaits the announcement of her charges, which should come before her next court appearance on Sept 3 court appearance. Her lawyer Patrick Fisher remains optimistic of the outcome.

“Prior to making their decision, I am hopeful they will review and consider not just reports from the San Luis Obispo Police Department, but also reports my investigator will have prepared by the end of this week,” Fisher told KSBY.

“The public attention this situation has attracted is understandable when one considers that what happened to Tianna hurts all of us. The arrest of peaceful protesters offends our country’s core values.”


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