Protesters blocked Highway 101 and damaged car

SAN LUIS OBISPO — After Black Lives Matter protesters blocked traffic on Highway 101 in both directions for an hour Tuesday and smashed the rear window of a car with a young child inside, the protest’s organizer was arrested, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

SLOPD arrested Tianna Arata on suspicion of participation in a riot, unlawful assembly, conspiracy, unlawful imprisonment and resisting arrest after the protest concluded. The decision to arrest Arata was made in coordination with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office based on Arata’s actions and the actions of the organized group. During the arrest of Arata, a San Luis Obispo PD officer was assaulted by an individual who was subsequently arrested. The officer suffered minor injuries.

“The City of San Luis Obispo supports peaceful protests,” said Police Chief Deanna Cantrell, “but we will not support violent acts and will continue to take action to protect our community.”

Early Monday morning, the City of San Luis Obispo became aware of a planned, peaceful protest on Tuesday. The San Luis Obispo Police Department immediately began reaching out to group organizers to ensure the protesters’ safety and the community’s safety.

Police Chief Cantrell contacted protest organizer, Arata, before the event and was ensured the event at Mitchell Park would be peaceful. 

City officials concluded the protest on Tuesday resulted in significant public safety risks for protesters and community members. The City stated it supports peaceful protests and the expression of free speech, “but actions that put the safety of the public at risk cannot be tolerated and detract from the ability for voices to be heard at this important time.”

The protest began at 4 p.m. at Mitchell Park and, at approximately 5:15 p.m., transitioned to a march of about 300 people through the downtown area. 

The protesters entered Highway 101 and blocked all lanes in both directions for nearly an hour. Law enforcement resources were limited based on expectations of a peaceful protest. While on the freeway, protesters damaged the hood of a car and smashed the rear window where a 4-year-old child was in the back seat and had glass shattered on him.

Shortly after 7:10 p.m., the protest left the highway using the northbound California Boulevard exit and moved toward Monterey Street. Protesters reportedly stopped and surrounded a vehicle at Monterey and California before moving toward downtown and returning to Mitchell Park. Some individuals were reportedly observed chasing down and throwing objects at a car.

The group returned to Mitchell Park at approximately 7:30 p.m., where they continued to hold the protest until dispersing at around 8 p.m.

The City received emergency assistance from several local law enforcement agencies. Anyone who received or observed property damage or potential crimes related to Tuesday’s protest is asked to contact the San Luis Obispo Police Department at 805-781-7312.

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