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Protesters march to free Tianna, gain national attention

Free Tianna Arata Protest
KEYT/Anikka Abbott
Protesters bring cans of food to donate at a Free Tianna Arata protest in San Luis Obispo.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Protesters marched in San Luis Obispo Wednesday evening. It comes as the city is making national headlines for the arrest of a protest organizer.

Tianna Arata was arrested July 21 after a protest ventured onto the highway in San Luis Obispo.

#FreeTianna trended on Twitter this week, and several people across the nation posted with the hashtag on platforms like TicTok and Instagram.

"I'm here today because we want all charges to be dropped against Tianna Arata," said protester Alexis Nocerino. Her statement echoed those of many other protesters.

The San Luis Obispo police department is recommending eight charges. District attorney Dan Dow is reviewing the case.

"One of the important things is that what happened to Tianna happened to all of us," said Arata's attorney Patrick Fisher. "It really was an attack on the first amendment and on free speech."

Protesters marched peacefully through downtown to the courthouse,
Heckled by some on the street and supported by others.

Protesters brought cans of food to donate to local food banks. They placed them on the courthouse staircase below a large Free Tianna sign. Under each can, protesters placed a signed statement asking to drop the charges against Arata.

Protest organizers said the placement of cans and fliers were inspired by a similar protest at Purdue University in the 1960s.

"I think it's really important to protect young activists and leaders in order for us to make this movement happen locally," said protester Emily Jay.

The #FreeTianna movement is gaining national attention.

"Hopefully this puts a lot of pressure on Dan Dow and the police chief and Ian Parkinson," said protester Josephina Agoruah. "Hopefully it puts some pressure on them to listen to the people because the people are speaking."

Arata's arraignment is September 3. The District Attorney may or may not have their decision by then.

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Anikka Abbott

Anikka Abbott is a weather anchor and reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Anikka, click here.


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