The Black Lives Matter movement is still going strong, but one of its champions is facing a slew of harsh legal charges: 20-year-old Tianna Arata, who was arrested after a protest in California, is now facing criminal charges that could land her in prison for up to 15 years. There has been renewed interest in Tianna's case after #FREETIANNA started trending on Twitter over the weekend and details emerged about what happened that raise serious questions.
Here's what happened: On July 21, Tianna was arrested by officers from California's San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) after a protest she organized ended with vandalism. Documentation from the SLOPD says Tianna was contacted before the protest to ensure it would remain peaceful. Authorities says a car window was damaged and glass rained on a four-year-old in the backseat, but local outlets claim there's more to it. According to the local paper The Tribune, motorists were driving into protestors.
After attendees began to leave, a group of police targeted Tianna and arrested her, and it was caught on video.
The SLOPD is holding Tianna personally responsible for the vandalism and is requesting that the San Luis Obispo District Attorney's Office charge her with a whopping five felonies (four felony counts of false imprisonment, one felony count of conspiracy) and three misdemeanor charges (resisting peace officers, starting a riot, and unlawful assembly). This is greatly upsetting people who disagree with the police holding Tianna accountable for the actions of everyone at the protest, and Teen Vogue says some believe she's only facing charges at all because she is an organizer. People are also taking issue with the upsetting way Tianna was arrested.
According to Newsweek, these charges could result in Tianna spending up to 15 years (!!!) in prison. As a result, people online are rallying for them to be dropped.
"I just turned 20 last month, there's so much that I want to accomplish," Tianna said to The Tribune. "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."
"It's frustrating because I don't necessarily see why all of this is being slammed onto me,” she continued. “I'm trying to build bridges. I'm trying to help people."
Here's how you can help Tianna:
Contact San Luis Obispo Officials Via Email
- Dan Dow, the city's district attorney, can drop the charges. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Derek Johnson, the city manager of San Luis Obispo in charge of hiring the SLO Police Chief, can also help drop Tianna's charges. He can be emailed at email@example.com.
- Ian Parkinson is the county sheriff at the SLOPD. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign the Change.org Petition for Tianna
There is currently a petition on change.org that's seeking 300,00 signatures to demand San Luis Obispo's District Attorney (and the SLOPD) drop all charges against Tianna. It currently has 215,000 signatures and counting, and it doesn't require a donation.
Keep an Eye on Tianna's Official GoFundMe Page
On July 23, a friend of Tianna's named Shalini Sasha Quattlebaum created a GoFundMe page in order to raise $10,000 to cover the cost of Tianna's legal fees. The fundraiser reached its goal, and the page says any extra donations will go toward bail funds for proceeding protesters.
Use Your Platform for Good
If you have a large following, use it to bring attention to Tianna's arrest by reposting information about her case.
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