SAN LUIS OBISPO — Black Lives Matter protesters Tianna Arata and her three new co-defendants were in court together for the first time Thursday morning. Their arraignment was continued to early December to give the three new co-defendants’ lawyers time to review the case. They did not enter pleas.
All four are facing charges stemming from a BLM protest on July 21 in San Luis Obispo. During the protest, demonstrators blocked Highway 101 and police claimed some protesters committed acts of vandalism.
They are all due back in court on Dec. 3.
Protest organizer Arata was charged with 13 misdemeanors, including suspicion of false imprisonment, suspicion of unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace and obstruction of a thoroughfare.
Arata was initially arrested at the protest. Protester Elias Bautista was arrested at the same time for allegedly assaulting a police officer attempting to arrest Arata.
Bautista pleaded not guilty to one felony count of resisting a peace officer and two misdemeanor counts on Sept. 3.
Marcus Montgomery, Joshua Powell, and Amman Asfaw became co-defendants with Arata after being arrested on Oct. 16.
Montgomery was charged with suspicion of false imprisonment, obstructing a person’s free movement in a public place and resisting or delaying a peace officer. Powell was charged with suspicion of resisting or delaying a peace officer. Asfaw was charged with suspicion of false imprisonment.
Three other protesters, Robert Lastra Jr., Sam Grocott, and Jerad Hill, also were arrested on Oct. 16. They are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 16.
Lastra Jr., was arrested in Atascadero and is believed to have thrown a skateboard at a silver BMW, breaking its back window, during the protest.
Lastra Jr., and Hill were charged with suspicion of false imprisonment and felony vandalism. Grocott faces three charges of suspicion of false imprisonment.
The arrests have received attention locally and nationally. City of San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon has criticized San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow for his handling of the case. Dow has rebuked her comments, saying she is using it for political gain.