Social media comes to the rescue of Tianna Arata, a California-based organizer of Black Lives Matter who was arrested after protesting last month and is now facing serious charges.
Arata was arrested by police in San Luis Obispo on July 21 after organizing a protest allegedly leading to vandalism. The hashtag #FreeTianna has since gone viral.
According to a statement released by the authorities, the SLOPD police chief contacted the 20-year-old before the protest to make sure he would be peaceful. The protest resulted in a march of about 300 people, according to police, which blocked Highway 101 and stopped traffic for almost an hour.
A passenger car was reportedly damaged and its rear window smashed, the glass falling on a four-year-old passenger in the back seat. Arata was later arrested when protesters started to leave.
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After a two-week investigation, the San Luis Obispo District Attorney's Office filed five criminal charges against Arata, including four wrongful imprisonment offenses and one conspiracy offense. She was also faced with three charges of misconduct – resisting or obstructing a peace officer, incitement to riot and unlawful gathering.
Arata's supporters and many on social media believe that they shouldn't be held responsible for anything that any person or a select few have done. According to Newsweek, Arata faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted on all counts.
"There was no riot," Mel, who identifies herself as Arata's best friend, told the news agency. “It was a beautiful, peaceful protest full of black and brown joy. They used excessive force; Tianna could barely keep up with the six grown men she forced into the car. "
Speaking to The Tribune, Arata said her arrest had seriously damaged her mental health. "It makes me worse," she said. "Both mentally and physically, because I don't rest well. I wake up in the middle of the night."
"I only turned 20 last month, there is so much I want to achieve," she continued. "And I've been through so many struggles in my life that I want to deal with it. It's just like I want to be able to overcome it and move on to the new steps in my life."