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Champs Sports in Tampa on fire after violent protests Saturday night.

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Hillsborough State Attorney brings felony charges against looters, violent protesters

Prosectors declined to prosecute dozens of other peaceful protesters.

Some protesters arrested in Hillsborough County now face felony looting and rioting charges.

The State Attorney’s Office in the 13th Judicial Circuit announced 11 defendants face charges that include burglary, rioting, cocaine possession and battery on a law enforcement officer.

“If you’re out to peacefully protest, you can expect support from our community,” said State Attorney Andrew Warren.

“But if you’re out to hurt, destroy, or steal—you can expect to be held accountable under the law.”

Charges stem from the first weekend protests that sparked nationwide following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

The protesters facing felony charges were arrested on May 30 and 31, when demonstrations in the Tampa area devolved into looting with fires and gunshots reported in the University of South Florida area.

All those charged were arrested in the Hillsborough Avenue area and the University areas around Tampa and Temple Terrace.

The charges notably come after the State Attorney’s Office announced 67 others would not face charges. Warren’s office described those individuals as “peaceful protesters.” Many of those arrests stemmed from protesters blocking roadways and city streets in Tampa.

But those now facing felony charges fall into a “different category of people.” These 11 are “criminals who chose to take advantage of protests to commit crimes and inflict harm.”

The State Attorney’s Office may not be done charging individuals involved in the protests. There were more than 130 arrest reports from law enforcement connected to protests since May 30.

Prosecutors are still reviewing evidence in the bulk of cases and the allegations of crimes tied to civil unrest.

Earlier this month, Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle declined to prosecute protesters arrested there for violating curfew orders in place.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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