SLO police seeking eight criminal charges against BLM organizer

Tianna Arata, in the center, stomping on a burnt flag


The San Luis Obispo Police Department is seeking five felony and three misdemeanor charges against a woman who organized a July 21 Black Lives Matter protest that included chasing after cars and detaining the drivers.

After conducting a two-week investigation that included watching videos of the protest, officers asked the SLO County District Attorney’s Office to file five felony charges against 20-year-old Tianna Arata: four felony counts of false imprisonment and a felony count of conspiracy. In addition, investigators are seeking three misdemeanor charges against Arata: resisting or obstructing a peace officer, inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly.

After congregating at Mitchell Park, Arata led approximately 300 protesters onto Highway 101 from both Osos Street and California Boulevard, blocking all lanes in both directions for nearly an hour. While on the highway, protesters ran after vehicles attempting to drive off the freeway, blocked vehicles, and yelled profanities at some of the drivers, according to videos of the protest.

In one incident, a protester threw a skateboard at the back window of a car. The window shattered, with the pieces landing on a 4-year-old boy, who was unharmed. Protesters claim the driver had hit a protester.

During Arata’s arrest, 22-year-old Elias Bautista yelled at an officer before kicking him in the crotch. Officers are seeking three felony charges against Bautista: two counts of attempting to deter an officer from doing his job with force, and one count of attempting to take a person from the lawful custody of a peace officer through a riot.

During an Aug. 5 BLM protest, attendees demanded District Attorney Dan Dow not bring charges against Arata. In late July, Dow announced that he will makes his determination based on evidence, not public opinion.

Arraignments for Arata and Bautista are scheduled for Sept. 3.

Sign up for breaking news, alerts and updates with Cal Coast News Top Stories.