SLO District Attorney Files Charges against Two Black Lives Matter Protestors

Protesters Rally to Free Tianna Arata – Courtesy Photo

By Julietta Bisharyan

After reviewing investigative reports and evidence submitted by the San Luis Obispo Police Department, District Attorney Dan Dow announced that he has filed 13 misdemeanor charges against Black Lives Matter protest organizer Tianna Arata and three charges against protestor Elias Bautista.

The charges concern their alleged conduct on Jul. 21, 2020, in which police say Arata was responsible for leading a protest march that blocked Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo and resulted in acts of vandalism at the hands of protestors.

Arata’s charges include six counts of obstruction of a thoroughfare, five counts of false imprisonment, one count of unlawful assembly and one count of disturbing the peace by loud noise.

San Luis Obispo Police Department requested that the District Attorney’s Office file multiple charges against Arata.

“I think what they’ve done here is followed up a bad arrest with a bad filing and I think this is a desperate attempt to cover up the mistakes of a police chief that is outgoing and obviously had no loyalty to this community,” said Arata’s attorney, Patrick Fisher. “We know that just as recently as yesterday the DA’s office was scrambling to find witnesses to support their case. We’re prepared to defend her all the way. She’s prepared to defend herself all the way on these charges.”

Last week, on Aug. 25, hundreds of people gathered in front of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse for a press conference and rally, chanting “Free Tianna,” in support of Arata.

One of Arata’s attorneys, Curtis Briggs, said the #FreeTianna movement had three goals—to ask San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow to reject the charges against Arata, to call for the immediate termination of San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell, and to ask the citizens of SLO County to keep an open mind if called for jury duty on this case.

“You’re going to need to hear the real facts, not what Deanna Cantrell put out in the media,” Briggs said. “We’re going to need you to serve on this jury.”

Cantrell, who says she believes herself to be a progressive police chief when it comes to change and reform, says she stands by the recommended charges.

“The facts are Tianna Arata was arrested for her own actions, for her own behavior, for her own decisions,” Cantrell said. “She broke several laws. She committed several crimes. She recorded herself committing those crimes. And the police department’s job, in part, is to be a victim advocate and to not only uphold the First Amendment rights of peaceful protesters but the rights of everybody else in the community, as well.”

Another protester, Bautista, is charged with one felony count of resisting an executive officer by force or violence and two misdemeanor counts of resisting, obstructing, or delaying a peace officer for his acts committed against three individual peace officers.

“The filing of these charges is solidly based on the duty of the District Attorney to hold individuals accountable for their actions when their conduct exceeds the bounds of the law,” said District Attorney Dan Dow in a statement. “Ms. Arata’s and Mr. Bautista’s conduct in this instance was not peaceful, but instead it violated the law by depriving other individuals in our community of their right to enjoy liberty.”

Arata and Bautista are scheduled to be arraigned in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.

The District Attorney’s Office says additional people could face charges after further investigation into the events of Jul. 21, 2020, is conducted.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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12 Comments

  1. Keith Olsen

    “The filing of these charges is solidly based on the duty of the District Attorney to hold individuals accountable for their actions when their conduct exceeds the bounds of the law,” said District Attorney Dan Dow in a statement. “Ms. Aratawentworth’s and Mr. Bautista’s conduct in this instance was not peaceful, but instead it violated the law by depriving other individuals in our community of their right to enjoy liberty.”

    It’s about time.  More protesters/rioters who break the law need to be held accountable.

    Finishing my first cup of coffee.

        1. Keith Olsen

          Good to see you back Ron.

          Actually it will probably make things worse. She has been a huge rallying point for further demonstrations.

          So damages and laws broken by rioters should be held in blackmail by what the rioters might do later if held accountable?  Is that the society and justice we all should  subscribe to David?

      1. Alan Miller

         

        Actually it will probably make things worse.

        The second cup of coffee?

        She has been a huge rallying point for further demonstrations.

        So?  Not making a presumption of guilt or innocence, but what does the number/intensity of further demonstrations have to do with justice?

        Leading demonstrators onto a freeway is an illegal and dangerous act.  I’ve never supported this tactic and believe those organizing such foolishness should be held accountable.  “resisting an executive officer by force or violence and . .  resisting, obstructing, or delaying a peace officer . . . acts committed against three individual peace officers” isn’t a small potatoes charge either.

        You poo-poo the importance of headlines, but why did you choose “Black Lives Matters Protestors” as your description of those committing the alleged criminal acts?  Headlines matter.

        1. David Greenwald

          “The second cup of coffee?”

          A second cup of coffee means I don’t sleep for a month.

          “but why did you choose “Black Lives Matters Protestors” as your description of those committing the alleged criminal acts? Headlines matter.”

          I didn’t.

          1. David Greenwald

            More and more I don’t write the headlines. I may change them if they are too long or something stands out, but we are running 12 to 14 articles a day. I’m not generally the one editing them.

            But that said, why is the headline wrong? One of the people charged was the protest organizer and the other was a protester?

        2. Alan Miller

          I don’t mean to imply the headlines are “wrong”.

          I read / listen to media from both ‘sides’, and  focus on sources that are not afraid to criticize their own ‘side’ — be it right or left leaning — honesty over ideology you might say.  Interestingly, such people seem to agree with each other more than with their more extreme counterparts on their ‘side’.  From both sides, criticism of headlines is a common theme — with an emphasis on how such headlines are clearly meant to influence the audience – or at least reflect the views of the media source.

          I was just pointing out that when protestors allegedly commit crimes – a headline writer may label them in different ways depending on the source.  Reading the more extreme media sources, the articles are like reading of entirely different events.

        3. David Greenwald

          Alan – Appreciate the clarification.

          These are three SLO paper headlines.  They describe then as Black LIves Matter protesters as well.  Their main story was DA charges Tianna – but most of our readers wouldn’t know who Tianna is, so that doesn’t make sense for us.  I think our headline is pretty good – gets SLO DA, two BLM protesters, I suppose we could have added 13 misdemeanors, but otherwise it seems inline with a mainstream newspaper in the town where this has really become a huge thing.

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