Protesters demand money from San Luis Obispo business owners

August 18, 2020

Protest Organizer Tianna Arata, Mayor Heidi Harmon, Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler, and another protester

Clarification: Courtney Haile, a co-founder of R.A.C.E. Matters SLO, did not personally ask SLO business owners for money for reparations for boarding up their businesses. Business owners said they met Haile and Michelle and Tianna Arata downtown, and not inside their businesses, and that Haile remained primarily silent.

Editors Note: An Instagram demand from Tianna Arata’s mother Michelle Arata to businesses, an interview with SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon, a video of a protester discussing shutting down businesses and a letter that accompanied a payment are at the end of this article.


A group of protesters affiliated with Mayor Heidi Harmon organized Black Lives Matter demonstrations in San Luis Obispo and demanded that downtown businesses pay reparations for boarding up their windows after local activists took to the streets.

Some businesses have paid, writing checks to R.A.C.E. Matters SLO. Others which refused were called racist and demeaned on social media.

The demands for money are made in writing and through personal visits from locals claiming ties to Black Lives Matter. The protesters direct the businesses to either pay R.A.C.E. Matters SLO, which is not a federally recognized charity and uses a post office box as its address, or to Black Lives Matter.

Following the May 25 death of George Floyd, Harmon met with a group of young African Americans, including Tianna Arata and Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler.

Then on June 1, Arata and Hamler participated in a march that turned violent, with protesters throwing rocks and water bottles at officers. SLO police then used pepper spray and tear gas to dispel protesters. Later in the evening, several local businesses were vandalized by a group of teens.

While Harmon and her former campaign manager Quinn Brady posted requests for the community to join in upcoming protests, local police officers warned businesses of the possibility of protester violence.

Many local businesses responded by boarding up their windows. Meanwhile, Harmon and Councilwoman Andy Pease attended the protests, which occurred almost daily.

“I am in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Harmon told CalCoastNews on June 4. “I collaborated with the leaders of this march to write a statement. We worked together on it. The number one thing for them is declaring racism a public health emergency.”

Tianna Arata’s mother Michelle Arata then posted a demand for money on Instagram that she also sent to select local businesses. The Instagram post describes boarding up windows as perpetuating fear and hate, and demands businesses pay reparations through financial donations to BLM.

“This money shall be equivalent to the amount of money and time they spent upholding fear in investing boarding up shops, and using their visibility in our community to undermine true progress,” Michelle Arata posted on Instagram. “This is grossly irresponsible.”

A handful of business owners, many afraid to have their names disclosed because of fears of retaliation, said the message was followed by a phone call that included name calling, another request for money and a personal visit.

Several business owners said Tianna Arata, Michelle Arata, Courtney Haile, Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler, and another Cal Poly student were present when demands were made. Others said two unidentified white women dropped by their businesses to demand money for Black Lives Matter or R.A.C.E. Matters SLO.

Haile is a close friend of Michelle Arata and also a co-founder of R.A.C.E. Matters SLO. Haile never personally asked them for money, though she appeared to be there in support of Michelle and Tianna Arata, according to multiple people present during a meeting with several business owners that included berating a black woman for not to be black enough and an Asian woman accused of supporting white supremacy.

On June 13, “some friends and I met with R.A.C.E Matters SLO affiliates Tianna Arata, Michelle Arata, Xavier Moore and Jalen Hamler,” Tricia Hamachai wrote in a statement to the SLO City Council that was read at a June 16 meeting. “Tianna Arata told me that, ‘Asians uphold white supremacy.’ Cal Poly football players, Xavier Moore and Jalen Hamler aggressively verbally attacked Abrianna Torres, a young black woman, telling her that ‘some black people aren’t black’ and that ‘black is not the color of your skin, it’s a culture.’

“These hate-filled, overtly racist comments have no place in San Luis Obispo and will not be tolerated,” Hamachai added. “R.A.C.E. Matters SLO founder, Courtney Hailey was present but did not speak or intervene. She sat by idly while these young black men marginalized a strong, young black woman. It is obvious that R.A.C.E. Matters SLO believes that only some black lives matter.”

Hamachai owned a Thai restaurant in Pismo Beach for 12 years. She has lived in SLO since 2005.

Haile said she never stopped by businesses to demand money.

“Businesses that have donated to R.A.C.E. Matters have done so of their own
volition,” Haile wrote. “This includes the donation mentioned in your story, from Finney’s Crafthouse. I did not ‘drop by’ any businesses and ‘demand money’ for any individual or group, or for R.A.C.E. Matters.

The protesters have regularly referred to their targets as racists who had benefited from white privilege.

Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler, Mayor Heidi Harmon with her arm around Hamler and Quinn Brady

During a June 4 protest, Hamler told reporter Josh Friedman he was unsure what their demands were. Hamler then talked with Harmon, before continuing with the video interview.

“I couldn’t tell you all of the demands,” Hamler told CalCoastNews on June 4. “The mayor put together some for a press conference, for a statement that they’ll release soon about what we’re trying to do and the cause we’re trying to change. It’s a lot of stuff.”

Many of the businesses that refused to pay received dozens of angry posts on Yelp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, at a time they were using social media to increase sales during the pandemic.

Tianna Arata’s attorney Patrick Fisher said “the money thing is outrageous,” when asked if his client had asked businesses for money.

“She has heard these rumors,” Fisher said. “It is outrageous. She has never done anything.”

However, on her Instagram account, Tianna Arata personally demeaned a local business that refused to pay, claiming a “flagrant display of privilege.”

On July 21, donning a shirt that said “riot” on the front, 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 for allegedly participating in a riot and unlawful imprisonment. She was released shortly afterwards without bail. Police recommended charges, which the SLO County District Attorney’s Office are reviewing.

Arata and some of her supporters appear to be conducting a misinformation campaign. They have implied she is in jail, that she is facing 15 years in prison and that the district attorney has already filed charges against her. Meanwhile, Arata and her supporters raised more than $40,000 through several online fundraisers.

During an Aug. 5 march, in which protesters targeted specific businesses while asking prosecutors to drop all charges against Arata, local BLM organizers voiced plans to shut down businesses that do not show them support.

“We need to stop shopping at businesses that do not support Black Lives Matter,” one speaker said. “We do not need to support them. We need to shut them down.”

The almost daily protests are having a negative impact on businesses, as people avoid the downtown area because of traffic issues and closures of Highway 101 onramps and offramps.

While many businesses have refused to pay reparations, other businesses have donated money to Haile’s R.A.C.E. Matters SLO. Finney’s Crafthouse on Monterey Street donated $1,000 on July 27, according to a letter that accompanied the donation.


Michelle Arata’s Instagram post


July 4 interview with SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon


SLO protester calls for shutting down businesses


Letter from Finney’s  Crafthouse


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May not be popular, but expel them from Cal-Poly, press charges and just maybe the next group will think twice.

I wholeheartedly agree, but the leftists at Poly will celebrate her and welcome her with open arms. A little jail sentence will put a damper on things, but she’ll bounce back surrounded by enough like minded individuals.

So as i was talking to another like mind today we wondered where this was all heading, I mean with the mayor standing tall with these thugs, the top cop doesn’t seem to be doing anything, the city manager is asking these thugs to get permits instead of telling them them have to or else, the DA is sitting on his hands, its been two weeks and still no idea if he is going to press charges or fold, so the question we came up with is will this lead to vigilantism, the elected public servants are not doing anything to protect the taxpayer and taxpayer propertys so do Patriots step in to help out, thats about the same as having the Feds sent here it could easily escalate into bigger problems.

Eat s*** and bark at the moon Tianna, Titanna or whatever the hell your name is. Great job Grizzly academy! Put this one on your marketing list for wayward losers. Tatiana Tiana whatever your name is your action speaks so loud I can’t hear a word you’re saying. I hope Danielle throws the book at you as well as he can! Teach your dumbass a lesson. or better yet take yourself back to Los Angeles or wherever you came from before you got your scholarship to the Grizzly academy

Tianna or whatever has been FAST TRACKED into Cal Poly. That is another Socialist California Program where these losers get privileges into our University System 9ver kids that have worked for 12 years in school, did Community and Sports Contributions and played by the rules and then a slug from Portland or wherever goes into Grizzly and gets a pass over California students. Her mother has taught her the works of the trade, take what you want, when you want, anyway you want!

Is that true? She was accepted into Cal Poly where the average GPA for incoming freshman is around 3.7 or 3.8.

Just wondering.

Good article, only two additions:

On June 1 several local businesses were vandalized by a group of teens unrelated to the BLM protesters.

Second, why oppose owners protecting historic buildings with plywood? Storefronts are very expensive.

Extortion , blackmail, call it what you want this is the actions of a mob, gang, mafia and certainly criminal!

Where is the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association, City (oh yea, we know they endorse this type of criminal activity, they’ve been doing it for years.

I was sympathy to Tirana at first, but now I have read her history, belonging to the thugs in Portland, coming to California with her mother to get better social benefits, ending up in Grizzly with the other rejects, getting a FAST TRACK into Cal Poly when there are kids that have worked hard throughout their school years, belonged to their communities and participated in positive programs and contributions, did their studies and earned great grades and they get over looked for some out of State extortionist that is costing this City and taxpayers $Thousands$ of dollars.

Charge her for every crime she has committed and if she crosses a line, book her again, and again!

I see ion KSBY news that the SLO city manager is questioning funding for overtime on police and such for these unpermitted protests that are going on, there has only been one permitted protest and that the city is talking to known protest organizers to encourage them to apply for permits, thats real nice of the city to encourage them to apply, why don’t they demand they have permits or face arrest for their actions.

SLO has enough money problems without the woke city officials making more money problems. They earmark $110k for a diversity study while the protests have cost law enforcement more than that. How dare Heidi Harmon and Andy Pease attend (which condones) any protests where the organizers aren’t following the legal permitting process. But, there is an easy solution. If the mayor or any city official attends a protest they must show awareness that a proper permit exists. If there’s no permit and they still attend, then that official must reimburse the city for: 1. the missing permit fee, 2. all overtime incurred by law enforcement and 3. must carry an insurance bond of 10 million dollars for any other expenses or damage incurred. This should be a contract in writing where the penalty for the second offense is their resignation. Or, you could skip 1,2 &3 and just require resignation if they attend a protest that isn’t permitted.

According to the city’s 2019-2021 budget, the city has $432,000 for a “Community Climate and Vulnerability Assessment and Safety Update;” $2,300,000 for a roundabout at California and Taft Streets; and a whopping $45,000,000 for “sustainable transportation” next year. The council also found $160,000 for a “diversity” position (which was filled without any kind of advertising or review of applications) – but there is no money for overtime for people who actually work and protect law abiding citizens and the businesses that fund that enormous wish list?

They ALL need to go!

$45,000,000 for sustainable transportation? Are you kidding? Did you mean $4.5 million?

I’m gonna look for this but please direct me the specific page number of the budget if you can.

The $45,000,000 figure is correct. It’s in the Sustainable Transportation Goals section (pages 56 – 61). “This is a critical area, in that how people travel has been heavily impacted by technological changes over the last several years. Rideshare services, bikeshare, scooters and other personal devices, have radically changed travel patterns. Therefore, under this priority, staff intends to thoroughly investigate various models and determine, with Council direction, the most appropriate array of choices for residents and visitors of San Luis Obispo.”

Sorry, but I haven’t seen any “radically changed travel patterns” around here except for more cars stuck in traffic thanks to the unchecked building everywhere. But the city is committed to spending millions of dollars on studies so the council can dictate the “appropriate” way we should get around.

So glad I have overpaid bureaucrats to tell me that.

I’ve been trying to verify this article but I’ve been unable to. I hope it isn’t true, but if it is, the authorities really need to step down on them, why this BS is being tolerated is absolutely unbelieveable, absurd, and it would be the BIG reason why they’ll never get reparations. I find myself unable to vote for any candidate that backs BLM.

blackmail matters

Kudos to KAREN VELIE and JOSH FRIEDMAN for their reporting. No doubt they will be vilified as haters and racists for shining a light on the real haters and racists. The craven cowardice of the Finney’s of the world aid and abet their own victimization. I do believe, though, that SLO has a cadre of stout-hearted, ornery individualists who will stand up to this thuggery.