Video of Tianna Arata’s arrest in San Luis Obispo is going viral along with a Change.org petition demanding charges against her be dropped.
As Arata and friends were about to head home on July 21 after leading a protest that went through several city blocks and onto Highway 101, Arata was met with a heavy police presence.
It’s a moment Arata’s friend Melissa Elizalde says was traumatizing.
“I hear noises and I get scared. Flashing lights and seeing police cars normally [scare me now too] and that’s just me. I can’t even express how that would feel to [Tianna],” Elizalde said.
Once Arata was taken into custody, her friends and family waited outside the jail for her to be released.
While Arata is now out on zero bail, she’s still facing the possibility of eight charges.
Elizalde is now helping lead a social media push to get the charges dropped.
Monday afternoon, Arata’s story was published on several major publications’ websites like Complex Magazine, Teen Vogue and Newsweek.
“Justice is hopefully going to be held because so many people are reading her story and knowing her story and knowing the person that she is,” Elizalde said.
Arata’s attorney, Patrick Fisher, says in a statement:
The information I have received is that our District Attorney’s Office has yet to make a determination as to whether they will file criminal charges against my client, Tianna Arata. Prior to making their decision, I am hopeful they will review and consider not just reports from the San Luis Obispo Police Department, but also reports my investigator will have prepared by the end of this week.
We are hopeful that, ultimately, our District Attorney’s Office will decide that a criminal case against Tianna Arata is not warranted so that this community and this inspiring person, Tianna Arata, can begin to recover from her arrest and its aftermath.
The public attention this situation has attracted is understandable when one considers that what happened to Tianna hurts all of us. The arrest of peaceful protesters offends our country’s core values.
“This is affecting her entire future. She is a human being and she’s not being treated as a human being. She’s being treated as a political pawn and that’s not fair,” Elizalde said.
Not everyone in the community is on Tianna’s side.
The Republican Party of San Luis Obispo County sent out an email with a link that allows you to send a pre-written email to SLO county and city officials.
In a statement released Monday, District Attorney Dan Dow says the public is urged to be patient while the case review continues. He adds public pressure for a particular outcome will not be considered in making a decision.
Arata is scheduled to appear in San Luis Obispo County Court on September 3; however, the District Attorney’s Office says it is anticipated to make a decision on whether to file criminal charges prior to that date.
Dow says the posts on social media that state Arata could face up to 15 years in prison are false.