Hillsborough County prosecutors have filed felony charges against dozens more people for rioting and looting during May protests against police brutality in north Tampa, bringing the total to 57.
State Attorney Andrew Warren announced the additional charges Friday morning. More are likely as evidence from 45 more cases is reviewed, his office said in a news release.
The first 11 people were charged June 18, three days after Warren said he would not prosecute 67 people arrested for unlawful assembly during a June 3 protest. He said then that his office would make a “clear distinction” between those peaceful protestors and others inciting violence.
The new charges mostly stem from a protest May 30, one of the only times a local demonstration against the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, has turned violent. Businesses off Fowler Avenue, near the University of South Florida, were vandalized and set aflame. Police and sheriff’s deputies had objects thrown at them, Warren said.
Altogether, those charged face 52 counts of burglary, 13 counts of grand theft and four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, as well as a slew of other misdemeanor charges. Some of the crimes carry prison time ranging from five years to life.
“These 57 people should not be confused with the large number of peaceful protestors in our community,” Warren said in the release. “The defendants we’ve charged took advantage of the pain in our community and tried to turn it into a quick buck or set out to cause chaos. None of us will stand for that.”
A release sent just after midnight did not name any of the individuals charged.