Credit: Grace Power Smith | Mustang News

Update 11:00 a.m.

The rally ended peacefully.

Update 10:56 a.m.

“For the DA’s office to add three Black men to this case is racist bullshit,” Tianna Arata said.

Arata asked everyone to stick together, support one another and vote the general election.

“We are fighting anti-Blackness at the root, and liberating Black people liberates all people.”

Tianna Arata ended her speech with a chant by Assata Shakur:

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win, we must love and protect one another, we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Update 10:48 a.m.

Amman Asfaw, charged with one misdemeanor, said his faith has keep him grounded during this time. He read 14 bible verses to the crowd.

One of the final verses he read was Romans 13:10, which said, “Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Update 10:40 a.m.

Marcus Montgomery, charged with three misdemeanors, spoke next. 

“I’m fighting for something I care about. This is what happens when you fight for something you believe in,” Montgomery said. “I will die figuring this problem out I will die after it’s been figured out.”

Update 10:33 a.m.

The mother of Marcus Montgomery, one of the young men facing charges, spoke at the rally.

“We need to build a new system from the ground up that includes everyone,” Mary Ann Montgomery said. “You say you’re tired of hearing us protest, well we’re tired of doing it.”

Update 10:30 a.m.

The crowd cheered when Tianna Arata’s mother, Michelle Arata, stepped up to the podium.

“We all have to stick together, because they want us against each other,” Michelle Arata said. “They want us to feel down, to where we can’t do what we need to do, and that’s not why we’re here.”

Arata said people need to remember that Black lives matter all the time, not just when the hashtag is trending.

“When we say Black lives matter, it is not just if they have a fucking court case, it is not just if they are the next victim of police brutality,” Arata said. “It is daily lives, it is livelihood, it is joy.”

Update 10:23 a.m.

Cuesta College history professor Zach McKiernan stepped up to the podium, and said the first person he will mention in his class next semester is Tianna Arata.

“Tianna Arata moves mountains,” he said. “She is both a leader and a listener … I trust Tianna to the fullest. Her intuition, her actions, and herself.”

McKiernan said Arata is taking her place in history next to activists like Nina Simone and Fanny Lou Harmer as she fights racism in San Luis Obispo.

“Tianna is not a malicious person, she does not hate, she does not believe in violence, she does not wish ill will towards other people,” he said. “She is an upstanding citizen committed to taking the difficult action to make this world a better place.”

Update 9:50 a.m.

“Dan Dow is doing this because his base wants to erase your existence as Black people and people of color,” Chair of the SLO Democratic Party said.

Update 9:15 a.m.

“This ugly case against Tianna Arata and the other activists must be dismissed,” Barry Price from Bend the Arc: Jewish Action said. “Our Jewish community is committed to Black liberation.”

Update 9:12 a.m.

All four activists appeared in court today. Judge Matthew Guerrero read them their charges, and they chose a new date to appear in court.

They will all appear in court on Dec. 3.

Update 8:55 a.m.

“SLO is not kind of Black people,” M’lynn, an activist, said at the podium. “It doesn’t matter if you lose your job, you get run out off your hometown, you loose your reputation — none of that maters when Black people are dying in the streets.”

Update 8:45 a.m.

About 300 protestors have arrived on the scene.

Update 8:40 a.m.

LeiYahna Jefferson, an activist and the person who was hit by a man on a motorcycle at a previous protest, said she is there to support Tianna Arata and the other local activists who have been charged. 

“The people who have misdemeanors charged against them right now have bright futures ahead of them,” Jefferson said.

She asked people to keep coming to protests and to continue to fight.

“I want diversity, I want change,” LeiYahna Jefferson said at the podium. “I’m still fighting.”

Update 8:36 a.m.

“Dan Dow and all those who work for you and elected you, you should feel ashamed and embarrassed,” Arata’s friend, Melissa Elizalde said. “Be better, you have the option to be on the right side of history, so I suggest you do it.”

Update 8:33 a.m.

Tianna Arata walked into the courthouse, and the crowd cheered and clapped for her.

Update 8:24 a.m.

About 150 people have congregated in front of the courthouse, while the protest organizers set up the podium for speakers. Most people wear masks, and some hold signs that say, “Free Tianna,” “Drop the Charges,” and “No Justice No Peace.”

Linnaeas Cafe donated coffee, and SLODOCO donated donuts to the event.

Three police are across the street by Fremont Theater — two standing and one sitting on a bike.

Original Story – 8:15 a.m.

More than 100 people have gathered outside the courthouse to protest the charges of four Black Lives Matter activists appearing in court this morning at 8:30 a.m.

Tianna Arata is charged with with 13 misdemeanors, including five counts of false imprisonment, six counts of obstruction of a thoroughfare, one count of unlawful assembly, and one count of disturbing the peace by loud noise.

The District Attorney’s Office charged three more activists the morning of Friday, Oct. 16.

Electrical engineering graduate student Amman Asfaw faces one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.

Asfaw is 22-years-old, and a chairperson on the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce.

24-year-old Marcus Montgomery is charged with three misdemeanors: false imprisonment, resisting or delaying a police officer and obstructing the free movement of any person in a public place.

23-year-old Joshua Powell is charged with one misdemeanor count of delaying two police officers. 

This is a developing story and it will be updated as more information becomes available.

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