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Protesters block Hwy 101 in San Luis Obispo for second time

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Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 02:46:18-04

UPDATE (11:16 p.m.) - The San Luis Obispo Police Department says the organizer of a Black Lives Matter protest was arrested Tuesday evening after the event "resulted in significant public safety risks for protesters and community members."

Protesters gathered for a rally at Mitchell Park at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and began to march through city streets. At one point, they ended up on Highway 101, blocking traffic in both directions.

According to the police department, while on the freeway, protesters damaged the hood of a car and smashed the vehicle's rear window. A four-year-old child was reportedly in the back seat of the car at the time.

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Police say protesters damaged a vehicle on Highway 101.

Later, police say protesters stopped and surrounded a vehicle at Monterey Street and California Boulevard. They say some people were also seen chasing down and throwing objects at a vehicle.

By approximately 8 p.m., protesters had returned to Mitchell Park and were dispersing. That's when officers took Tianna Arata into custody.

Police say Arata was arrested on suspicion of participation in a riot, unlawful assembly, conspiracy, unlawful imprisonment, and resisting arrest.

"The decision to arrest Arata was made in coordination with the District Attorney's Office based on Arata's actions and the actions of the organized group," police said in a news release issued Tuesday night.

During Arata's arrest, a second person was taken into custody after police say an officer was assaulted and suffered minor injuries.

Friends of Arata were visibly upset.

"The force that was used against her was not okay," said Josephine A. "She doesn't deserve to be pushed in a car like that. We have been protesting for over a month over situations like that and to see this happen in front of my own eyes contradicts the whole reason I'm out here."

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon was among the people who gathered outside the San Luis Obispo County Jail on Tuesday night where Arata was expected to be booked. She declined to comment on the protest and Arata's arrest, saying she didn't have enough information yet to speak on the matter.

In the police department's news release, Chief Deanna Cantrell said, "The City of San Luis Obispo supports peaceful protests, but we will not support violent acts and will continue to take action to protect our community."

UPDATE (10:50 p.m.) - A group of supporters has gathered outside the San Luis Obispo County Jail where Tianna Arata, 20, and another protester were apparently taken after their arrests.

Another protest in support of Arata is now planned to take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. Protesters are expected to meet at Mitchell Park and march to the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

UPDATE (8:51 p.m.) - The organizer of the protest has been taken into custody by San Luis Obispo police.

No further details on what led up to the arrest are known at this time.

UPDATE (8:16 p.m.) - The protest has ended.

UPDATE (7:50 p.m.) - Demonstrators have returned to Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo, where the protest began with a rally earlier Tuesday afternoon.


UPDATE (7:35 p.m.) - Protesters are marching through the downtown area.

UPDATE (7:21 p.m.) - Both directions of Highway 101 through San Luis Obispo have been reopened to traffic.

UPDATE (7:11 p.m.) - Protesters have moved off Highway 101 and are marching south on California Boulevard.


UPDATE (7:02 p.m.) - Northbound traffic was being diverted at Marsh Street and southbound traffic was backed up to Grand Avenue.


(6:27 p.m.) - Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo is closed after marchers involved in an afternoon protest made their way to the highway.

Caltrans' live traffic cameras showed the freeway clear of vehicles and blocked off at Broad Street.

San Luis Obispo police said protesters were blocking both north and southbound lanes and the freeway was closed in both directions at Osos Street.

The protest started at Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo at about 4 p.m. and participants began marching through downtown San Luis Obispo at about 5:30.

On June 1, a large group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched onto Highway 101, creating a large traffic backup.

This is a developing story and will be updated.