By Associated Press - Friday, July 3, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors in one Florida office have charged a total of 57 people with rioting and looting that occurred shortly after a black man dying in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests, officials announced Friday.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement that charges have been filed against dozens of people for ransacking stores, causing destruction and fighting with police officers in Tampa. The riots began the night of May 30, less than a week after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

“These 57 people should not be confused with the large number of peaceful protesters in our community,” Warren said. “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.”

While most of the alleged offenses occurred more than a month ago, Warren pointed out that filing charges takes time because prosecutors thoroughly review all the evidence for each case.

The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute peaceful protesters, but Warren said the 57 people accused of felony crimes face from five years to life in prison.

The businesses victimized include jewelry stores, clothing stores and convenience stores

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