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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (CW44 News At 10) – June 19, 2020

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has filed the first set of felony charges against people involved in rioting and looting on the nights of May 30 and 31. Warren states, “Make, no mistake, these are criminals who are exploiting the opportunity to commit crimes. These are different than the people protesting that we’ve seen.”

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The 11 defendants are charged with a total of 15 felony crimes, including burglary, rioting, battery on a law enforcement officer, and cocaine possession.

“If you’re out to peacefully protest, you can expect support from our community. But if you’re out to hurt, destroy, or steal—you can expect to be held accountable under the law,” State Attorney Warren said.

The defendants are accused of actively looting or attempting to break into several businesses in the Hillsborough Avenue and University areas of Tampa and Temple Terrace.

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Earlier this week, the State Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute 67 people arrested while peacefully protesting. The felony charges announced today apply to a different category of people: criminals who chose to take advantage of protests to commit crimes and inflict harm.

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More charges are expected against others as the State Attorney’s Office continues to review the evidence and more than 130 arrest reports gathered by law enforcement since May 30 for crimes that may have occurred during civil unrest.