The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it filed 13 misdemeanor charges against Black Lives Matter organizer Tianna Arata, 20, and one felony charge and two misdemeanor charges against protester Elias Bautista, 22. Both defendants are scheduled for arraignment on Thursday morning.
Arata is charged with one count of unlawful assembly, one count of disturbing the peace, six counts of obstruction of a thoroughfare, and five counts of false imprisonment. The SLO Police Department had recommended five felony charges and three misdemeanor charges against Arata.
On July 21, Arata allegedly 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, Bautista yelled at an officer before kicking him in the crotch. Prosecutors charged Bautista 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.
Arata contends she was arrested because she is black, and that the July 21 protest was peaceful. District Attorney Dan Dow does not agree.
“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,” Dow said. “Ms. Arata Wentworth 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.”