San Luis Obispo Black Lives Matter organizer Tianna Arata and attorney Lee Merritt continued their media campaign with ABC’s Byron Pitts, again saying that the July 21 protest was peaceful. Arata went further this time claiming the protest was “super filled with joy.”
On July 21, 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 and blocked vehicles attempting to drive off the freeway.
Arata and her supporters have spread misinformation including claims that Arata is in jail, that charges have already been filed against her, and that she is facing 15 years in prison. Certain media outlets such as Cosmopolitan have parroted the protesters’ claim that Arata is facing up to 15 years in prison.
Officers arrested Arata following the protest, and released her shortly afterwards without bail.
SLO police officers then reviewed evidence, which includes hours of videos, before last week recommending prosecutors file five felony charges against Arata: four felony counts of false imprisonment and a felony count of conspiracy. In addition, investigators are seeking three misdemeanor charges: resisting or obstructing a peace officer, inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly.
The district attorney has not filed charges at this time.