A Black Lives Matter (BLM) leader is being charged due to other protesters who got violent during a rally a crime of association, during last month.
According to Newsweek, activist Tianna Arata was arrested on July 21stt by the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) in California after authorities said a protest she organized turned violent.
In a statement released following Arata’s detainment, the department said that SLOPD Police Chief Deanna Cantrell had spoken with Arata ahead of the rally and had been assured that the protest would be peaceful.
However, SLOPD expressed the protest, which grew to a demonstration involving approximately 300 people, got out of hand when demonstrators marched onto a highway and, at one point, e launched an assault on a passenger vehicle, despite a 4-year-old child being inside.
It is unknown what led up to the incident, however, SLOPD indicated protesters damaged the hood of a vehicle and smashed the rear window, causing the glass to shatter on a 4-year-old, who happened to be sitting in the back seat.
According to police, protesters also targeted at least two other vehicles when they were exiting the highway, with some demonstrators chasing down and throwing objects at one car.
The protest, police said, “resulted in significant public safety risks for protesters and community members.”
Here is a video of Tianna’s arrest and her friend Melissa Elizalde defending her actions.
— melissa elizalde (@melissayumm) August 10, 2020
Arata could now be facing up to 15 years in prison if charges against her are pursued for simply organizing what she had hoped would be a "peaceful protest," Newsweek reported. According to police, she was charged with "four felony counts of false imprisonment and one count of felony conspiracy, plus three misdemeanors."
A local news outlet The Tribune, police have asked District Attorney Dan Dow to file eight charges against Arata, including four felony counts of false imprisonment, one count of felony conspiracy, and three misdemeanors. A conditional arraignment date has been set for September.
A Change.org petition calling Arata's arrest "unjust" backing the charged California BLM Leader, had collected over 50,000 signatures, calling for her immediate freedom.
"Our community should come together to support her and her family. Protect our young black lives movement leaders right to protest and demand that the district attorney not pursue any charges against Tianna Arata," the petition states. " Our young black leaders deserve to be heard, seen, and supported," it says.
Since the event has gained national attention, Arata spoke out in an interview with ABC News about the protest in question, KeyT reported.
"The protest that happened July 21 was actually incredibly peaceful and super filled with joy," said Arata on ABC News. "There is a narrative being pushed, but that's not the accuracy of what happened that day."
Arata also spoke with The Tribune, and says her arrest has heavily damaged her mental health. "It's deteriorating me," she said. "Mentally as well as physically because I don't get good rest. I'm waking up in the middle of the night."
"I just turned 20 last month, there's so much that I want to accomplish," she continued. "And I've been through so much struggle in my life that dealing with this, it's just, like, I want to be able to overcome it and to go on to the new steps of my life."
Police have stated that it's a “misinformation” campaign that claims that a “peaceful” Black Lives Matter leader who was arrested last month is facing 15 years in prison, calling her the “aggressor” of a protest that turned violent.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said that prosecutors are still weighing whether to file criminal charges.
“The review will involve examination of all of the evidence that includes many social media posts, video evidence, witness statements, and other evidence,” he said in a statement Monday. “It is likely that additional investigation will be necessary before making a criminal filing decision.”
He added, “Finally, recent social media posts and other media reports state that Ms. Arata faces 15 years in prison for her conduct. This is patently incorrect and a reckless statement.
"Although the San Luis Obispo Police Department has listed numerous charges that they believe the evidence supports, the decision of what charges to bring is completely within the District Attorney’s authority and responsibility.”