The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office has filed 13 misdemeanor charges against Black Lives Matter protest organizer Tianna Arata.
Police say Arata is responsible for leading a protest march on July 21 that blocked Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo. Police claim the march also resulted in acts of vandalism at the hands of protesters.
The police department requested that the District Attorney's Office file multiple charges against Arata, including several felonies.
According to the complaint against Arata, she is facing six counts of obstruction of a thoroughfare, five counts of false imprisonment, one count of unlawful assembly, and one count of disturbing the peace by loud noise. All are misdemeanors.
Arata's attorney, Patrick Fisher, told KSBY News he is disappointed by the DA's filing.
"I think what they've done here is followed up a bad arrest with a bad filing and I think this is a desperate attempt to cover up the mistakes of a police chief that is outgoing and obviously had no loyalty to this community. We know that just as recently as yesterday, the DA's office was scrambling to find witnesses to support their case. We're prepared to defend her all the way. She's prepared to defend herself all the way on these charges," Fisher said.
Another protester who was arrested on July 21, Elias Bautista, is being charged with one felony count of resisting an executive officer and two misdemeanor counts of resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer.
Police say Bautista assaulted an officer during Arata's arrest.
“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,” said District Attorney Dan Dow in a statement released Wednesday evening. “Ms. Aratawentworth’s 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.”
Protests and rallies have been happening almost daily in San Luis Obispo, with many hoping to keep these charges from being filed.
“We’re going to fight until Tianna’s free of those charges," said Samantha Smith, a San Luis Obispo resident. "If she gets jail time, we’ll get less jail time and less until she’s out.”
Both Arata and Bautista are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday. Many are expected to be outside the courthouse, including the Black Lives Matter Community Action Group.
The District Attorney's Office says it's still investigating what happened on July 21 and additional people could face charges.