Three Black Lives Matter protesters agree to misdemeanor diversion

June 1, 2020 protest

Three of the five Black Lives Matter protesters charged with illegal acts during a June 1, 2020 protest in San Luis Obispo were granted misdemeanor diversion this week, which allows them to do eventually have their cases dismissed.

On June 1, protesters blocked traffic on Highway 101, and later engaged in a standoff with officers near the police station. The protest allegedly turned violent with agitators throwing water bottles at officers.

Officers responded with pepper spray, tear gas and handcuffs.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed charges of failing to disperse a riot and resisting or obstructing an officer against Gianna Stoddard, 26, according to the complaint. Henry Popp, 19; Abigail Landis, 22; Michael Gates, 22; and Alexandra Bahramzadehebrahimi, 22, were each charged with one count of failure to disperse a riot or unlawful assembly.

Judge Jacquelyn Duffy granted Stoddard, Popp, and Bahramzadehebrahimi misdemeanor diversion, meaning they can divert their sentences for one year. During that time they need to abide by all laws.

Stoddard is required to complete 20 hours of community service since her charge involved resisting or obstructing a peace officer in addition to the failure to disperse.

After successful completion of the diversion program, their cases will be dismissed and the arrest upon which the diversion program was imposed will be deemed to have never occurred.

“The Office of the District Attorney believes the resolution of court misdemeanor diversion was a fair and reasonable one for these defendants given their lack of criminal history and the totality of circumstances surrounding their conduct,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran.

Court Misdemeanor Diversion is a new program that was created by the California Legislature in 2020 to divert minor misdemeanor offenses out of court. Assembly Bill 3234 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Sept. 30, 2020.