Social media is coming to the aid of Tianna Arata, a California-based Black Lives Matter organizer, who was arrested after a protest last month and is now facing some serious charges.
Arata was arrested by the San Luis Obispo police department on July 21 after she organized a protest that allegedly resulted in vandalism. The hashtag #FreeTianna has since gone viral.
According to a statement released by authorities, the SLOPD police chief contacted the 20-year-old before the protest to ensure it would be peaceful. That protest ended up turning into a march of about 300, police say, that blocked Highway 101 and stopped traffic for nearly an hour.
A passenger vehicle was allegedly damaged and its rear window was smashed, with the glass falling on a four-year-old passenger in the back seat. Arata was later arrested as protesters began to leave.
After a two-week long investigation, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office filed five felony charges against Arata, including four felony counts of false imprisonment, and one felony count of conspiracy. She was also hit with three misdemeanor charges – resisting or obstructing a peace officer, inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly.
Arata’s supporters and many on social media believe she shouldn’t be held liable for something an individual or a few individuals did. According to Newsweek, Arata faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
“There was no riot,” said Mel, who identifies herself as Arata’s best friend, to the news outlet. “It was a beautiful, peaceful protest filled with Black and Brown joy. They used excessive force; Tianna could barely keep up with the six grown men forcing her to the car.”
Arata 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."
Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images