Hands off Tianna Arata and Elias Bautista

Video by Jo Anna Edmison

As I am sure you have heard, Tianna Arata and Elias Bautista were unjustly arrested during a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism on July 21st in San Luis Obispo. Both Arata and Bautista face felonies, five and two respectively, putting their futures in jeopardy.

Naturally, public outrage ensued across The Internet. Infographics detailing the event flooded Instagram, articles published by Cosmopolitan and other nationally ranked publications covered the issue, and social media influencers like Sarah Baska and Elijah Daniels took to Twitter and Tik Tok sharing each stories of the victims, asking their followers to contact government officials and sign petitions to clear Arata’s and Bautista’s names.

So, what exactly is SLO law enforcement’s reasoning behind the arrests? Well, SLOPD cites two forms of “violence” during the protest: a smashed car window and a skateboard thrown at a vehicle barreling through the crowd. These incidents were somehow enough for police to consider the protest a riot and for Arata and Bautista to be taken into custody.

Despite being the organizer, Arata should not be held accountable for individual protester’s actions nor legally chastised for the broken glass of an SUV, especially the one maliciously headed in her direction. What’s even more disturbing is the irony of the situation. It is laughable that police officers believe arresting, manhandling, and berating protesters during a non-violent protest against police brutality will end the fight. You, officer, are only adding further justification to the cause and proving the point of the protest. For the officers of the SLOPD, it might be worth reflecting — what could look bad about ambushing a non-resisting, non-violent protest organizer with six armed policemen?

Photo by Jo Anna Edmison

Even worse is SLO County officer Ian Parkinson’s tone-deaf statement in response to Tianna’s arrest and the global pandemic. In a piece published by the SLO Tribune, Parkinson considered himself the victim, stating “The only thing I know about prejudice is when I put on a uniform and somebody doesn’t like me because I’m wearing a uniform.” He goes on to claim that “racism is everywhere” but he has “never seen any indication that systemic racism exists in [SLO] county.” To top it all off, Parkinson proudly stated he will not hand out fines to enforce COVID-19 mandates in SLO county and added: “If you choose to wear [a mask] great for you. If you choose not to wear one great for you.”

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CALL 1 (805) 781-7312 to ask SLO PD why they attack and arrest protestors and Black leaders in our community. Ask why Tianna and other protestors were not read their rights and why they were not told what they were being charged with. Ask why they did not act when a driver ran over protestors. Pig Ian Parkinson said, “… the only thing I know about prejudice is when I put on a uniform and somebody doesn’t like me because I’m wearing a uniform.” Ian Parkinson has never experienced prejudice. Blue lives don’t matter in fact blue lives don’t FUCKIN exist. A uniform is a choice, being a cop is a choice. Skin color, sexuality, gender identity, disability, etc are not choices. It is easy for a white cop to say that systemic racism does not exist in this county. He will never experience systemic racism. He can say that systemic racism doesn’t exist to try and cover for the fact that he is a leader in an organization which perpetuates systemic racism. Pigkinson has also said that he will not enforce the California public mask mandate with fines. He said, “If you choose to wear one good for you, if you choose not to wear one good for you”- in reference to face masks. Please see the 2nd and 3rd slides for the quotes. (2nd and 3rd slides taken from SLO Tribune article “SLO County sheriff condemns ‘violent protests,’ downplays masks in Tea Party talk” by Cassandra Garibay and Matt Fountain) Ohrwurm #wizardsofslo #wizardofslo #slopd #slosheriff #slocounty #sanluisobispo #sanluis #slo #slocal #defundthepolice #pigs #fuck12 #sheriffianparkinson

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This is not an isolated incident. Back in June, SLOPD used tear gas, firecracker-like devices, and made arrests against a peaceful crowd of 200 protesters also demonstrating for black lives. In a press conference following the event, Police Chief Deanna Cantrell attempted to justify officers’ actions, claiming “suspected violence” and alleging rocks and water bottles were targeted at police officers. Both allegations lack video evidence, and witnesses claim them to be utterly misinformed.

As a college town with a majority white population, officers like Ian Parkinson, and a history of racism, it is unequivocally necessary that we hold these aggressors accountable. Help clear Tianna Arata and Elias Bautista from their unjust charges by sharing their stories and signing the petitions below. And if you are in the SLO area, attend the Free Tianna Coalition’s “Free Tianna Arata Press Conference and Rally” tomorrow August 25th at 10 am, located at the San Luis Obispo Courthouse (1050 Monterey St.)

Action Items

CHANGE.ORG – Justice for Tianna

CHANGE.ORG – Justice for Elias

FREETIANNA.COM – Sign the Open Letter

FREETIANNA.COM – Contact District Attorney Dan Dow

Delaney Faherty is .WAV’s Content Editor, she wrote the article. Olive Robertson is a .WAV staff member, she created the graphic.