How #FreeTianna Burst San Luis Obispo’s Progressive Bubble

San Luis Obispo, California, likes to pat itself on the back, like a lot.

The city has been named the “Happiest Place to Live” in the US by many magazines, boasts progressive Mayor Heidi Harmon and her goal of carbon neutrality for the city, and the celebrates companies like Jamba Juice that began at the city’s college, Cal Poly SLO. But for the few people of color who live there, and many who visit the town, there has always been a less-discussed fact that the predominantly white area isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

After the San Luis Obispo Police Department targeted activist Tianna Arata with punitive charges after a Black Lives Matter rally, many of the community’s uglier feelings regarding race have come to the surface.

In this video I discuss more than just racism in SLO, but the actions and politics of local law enforcement like SLOPD Chief Deanna Cantrell and District Attorney Dan Dow that show they are far from unbiased arbiters of the law on California’s picturesque Central Coast. I also discuss some of the questionable reports from Cal Coast News and Karen Velie that help spur division and rightwing paranoia in the area. I also share some of my personal experience witnessing racism in SLO.

It’s a longer episode, but there’s a lot to discuss!

If you like independent journalism and commentary from Joe Payne, please like and subscribe to @PoliticalPayne on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and on YouTube. Or consider making a donation below.


Your donation can help me provide independent journalism covering local, national, and worldwide news along with the analysis and commentary you trust me to provide.



Previous Political Payne episode about SLO BLM protests:


Published by Joe Payne

Joe Payne is a lifelong resident of the Santa Maria Valley who teaches music, performs, and tunes pianos ( He's also a seasoned journalist who shares his own reporting and opinion on matters local and national (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: