Civil rights attorney threatens SLO County district attorney

August 12, 2020

Tianna Arata, in the center, stomping on a burnt flag

By KAREN VELIE

A civil rights attorney out of Philadelphia threatened yesterday to bombard San Luis Obispo with protesters if District Attorney Dan Dow does not drop charges against Black Lives Matter organizer Tianna Arata, 20.

Attorney Lee Merritt joins protesters who have demanded the district attorney drop charges against Arata. Merritt asserts Arata’s arrest is an example of issues with the justice system in the United States.

“Tianna Arata was arrested for being a protest leader in San Luis Obispo— the most recent example of America’s justice system demonstrating its ability to arrest everyone but the men who murdered Breonna Taylor in her bed,” Merritt posted on Instagram on March 11. “Dan Dow, district attorney, you have a very small window of time to drop these charges before your county, city and home are bombarded by activist from all over the country. Find out if this is an idle threat if you want to.”

For three weeks, protesters have marched almost daily in downtown San Luis Obispo demanding Arata be set free, that charges are dropped, and that businesses that do not show support for their movement are shut down. In addition, Arata’s supporters have bombarded local goverment agencies with emails, calls, and public meeting comments demanding Arata be set free from prison and that the charges are dropped.

However, Arata was booked into jail and released without bail the same evening. In addition, charges have not been filed against her. Merritt has not returned requests for comment.

It appears Merritt and the protesters are unaware that Arata is not in jail and that charges have not been filed. The district attorney’s office is reviewing the evidence before making a determination on charging Arata.

“We are required to investigate, review the recommendations,” said Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth. “It is our duty and obligation to engage in the process.”

On July 21, after congregating at Mitchell Park, Arata led approximately 300 protesters onto Highway 101 from both Osos Street and California Boulevard, blocking all lanes in both directions for nearly an hour. While on the highway, protesters ran after vehicles attempting to drive off the freeway and blocked vehicles.

In one incident, a protester threw a skateboard at the back window of a car. The window shattered, with pieces landing on a 4-year-old boy, who was unharmed. In another altercation, protesters refused to let a pregnant woman’s parents drive her to the hospital.

Officers arrested Arata following the protest, and released her shortly afterwards without bail.

SLO police officers then reviewed evidence, which includes hours of videos, before last week recommending prosecutors file five felony charges against Arata: four felony counts of false imprisonment and a felony count of conspiracy. In addition, investigators are seeking three misdemeanor charges: resisting or obstructing a peace officer, inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly.

On Aug. 10. the district attorney began reviewing the police department’s charging recommendations.

“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.” according to the SLO District Attorney’s Office. “All individuals charged with a crime are legally presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. Therefore, it is premature to speculate or discuss what possible sentence would be appropriate or warranted.”

Arata’s arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 3. The district attorney’s office anticipates prosecutors will make a decision on whether to file charges by that time.

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womanwhohasbeenthere

Well I guess Dan Dow, rural county district attorney, has struck terror in the heart of Tiana or she wouldn’t be pulling in the big guns from NAACP from the other side of the country to defend her. Do they really think they are going to intimidate him? Not gonna happen!


WhatNext

Good people do good things all the time. It is not necessary to commit a crime in order to do so. It in fact it is very much counter productive. You can say the same for threatening statements.


obispan

The protesters know where Dan lives. I don’t. He should tell me so that I can sign up for shifts and sleep in my car outside on the street. As citizens, we could cut down on some serious police overtime that we can’t afford.


LeroyMoo

The obvious question that no one is asking Tianna is: would she block the freeway again and thumb her nose at Cantrell if she had it to do over again? If no, then maybe she understands the no pedestrian signs at each on-ramp are there because some adults wanted an administrative safety barrier to protect people. If yes (which my guess is) she wants the attention, because of low self esteem and bullying issues not corrected by her parent.

Cantrell and the CHP aren’t going buy BLM false promises anymore as witnessed by HWY 101 on and off-ramp being blocked by CHP at 6pm last night. I really wanted to pull off 101 last night in SLO for dinner after working all day yesterday in the north county heat. But, since the first available off-ramp was at Madonna I just kept my money and went home to eat. So, not only did law enforcement pay overtime to block SLO, they also didn’t get my dinner dollars.


TKG

And where is our Mayor and City Council during these times? The Mayor is fanning the flames of this movement while the Council is MIA. What has become of the “Happiest Place in America?”


ActaNonVerba

It’s appalling that Mayor Harmon is not taking the lead on behalf of the city.


What’s even more appalling is that she’s laying low while actually supporting the Marxist BLMers. Totally disgusting.


Vote Cherysse Sweeney for SLO Mayor in November!


Murse

Mayor Harmon posted on Instagram about the vigil tonight at Mitchell Park “to shine a light on the visions and aspirations of Black youth protest leaders” She tagged Tianna Arata’s mother Michelle Arata (@hellagoldrush) and a couple of high-profile people from outside the area with over a million followers combined.(@kendrick38 @osopepatrisse)


I question the mayor’s agenda as she infers support for Tianna Arata through the post and brings outsiders into the local controversy. It seems she should be concentrating on keeping our city safe and not encourage outsiders with over a million followers to be stirring up more controversy.


“As Mayor, I have always had a commitment to elevating voices who have not been heard. … Today, at this moment in SLO, it is the BIPOC population that has been targeted, discriminated against, and left out.”


“I hope tonight will be an opportunity to join together and shine a light on the visions and aspirations of Black youth in our community. If you have been curious about what some of the youth in SLO are protesting about, and what their hopes are for the future- this is a great opportunity to come, listen, learn and witness what is true for these residents of the city we all call home. #shareslo #blacklivesmatter @racemattersslo @hellagoldrush @osopepatrisse @kendrick38


ShootTheMessenger

Does anyone see the ultimate massive intrusion to our fundamental system of justice that attorney Merritt is trying to set a very dangerous precedence for.


“Your honor my client is innocent, if the DA does not drop the charges or you the judge finds my client guilty we will arrange for mass protests in your city to include your personal residence! We will come to the HOUSES of the judge, the DA, the Sheriff, the Mayor, the City Council and Supervisors homes and stand outside and protest day and night until the charges are dropped”


Sulla

Don’t forget the homes of those on the jury.


varian08

No jury


varian08

Well it is exactly what dan down and arnold did against Hill and Bereaud the last elections.so do not come crying my litle chicken.


esteroboy

Lawyers get a lot of leeway. Apparently they can even extort, in an effort to defend. There are criminal courts and there are courts of public opinion. SLO is NOT a bastion of racism. I rest my case.


Gramelin

“SLO is NOT a bastion of racism. I rest my case.” Esteroboy, you and I know that,

Ya, but according to the SLO Mayor it is! She has, in writing, charged every white person as a racist. Thats why SLO needed the $165(something)K right? Because all of us bad white people in SLO have been denying anyone of color their justifiable rights! Heidi Set us up! Her words have been interpreted as though there have been some kind of repetitive racism. I am in disbelief she is still standing as Mayor. After her betrayal of the city she swore to protect.


slophocles

This is the greatest thing to ever happen to lily-white SLO! I hope he pays us a visit and brings Al Sharpton and a few black militant organizations and marches right down Higuera Street and up the steps to Dan Dow’s office. I’d pay to see it!


Sulla

I would pay to see it. Because, is it possible for anybody to march “right down Higuera Street and up the steps of Dan Dow’s office”? When did the D.A. leave the Courthouse and move to Higuera Street?


slophocles

I haven’t worked out the route yet exactly. But Higuera would draw the most attention and cause the most inconvenience and discomfort for us sheltered SLO’ans.


slophocles

Would probably have to take the elevator too.


oldcayucan

SloP


If you hate Slo why don’t you move out of town?


Gramelin

So Slop, Why? do you think all these Lily whites are Racist? And if so, Why would you beleive that? Just because they are white? What have you personally experiences that would be considered a racist act? Please do tell.

I am sure there are a few small minded people out there. But the truth is, the Majority are NOT!


Jorge Estrada

The BLM movement would be less expensive if it were conducted in another country, let’s say China where there are more people to enlighten? All lives matter in this country and if preferential treatment is the quest, then they are in the wrong country. I saw the video clip, a black news commentator, a black movement spokes person and a black lawyer. Where were the non-black people in this movement, why are they not a part of this national coverage? Is the BLM movement a discrimination club?


varian08

Sorry we are not in china or north korea.we are in america ,the greatest country in the word.a lot of people died or were jailed for the right to protest.i forgive you but please read a book about civil rights


varian08

Not to many patriots in this county but a lot of white privileged peoples.is it what they teach you at saint william church,to hate people.


esteroboy

Too many patriots. Too.


varian08

Thank you .You are right , there are too many patriots and not enough kind people.