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Hillsborough state attorney will not charge 67 arrested in Tampa for unlawful assembly

Andrew Warren says he personally reviewed each case of the 67 people Tampa Police arrested.

TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced Monday his office will not prosecute dozens of protesters arrested earlier this month during demonstrations in downtown Tampa.

That determination comes after Warren says his office reviewed dozens of arrests made on the evening of June 2.

“This office will not be filing charges against any of those 67 individuals,” he said. “In these unlawful assembly arrests, there is no value in filing charges. Prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights doesn’t solve problems. It creates them by weakening the bonds that exist between law-enforcement and our community and by undermining peoples’ faith in our system.”

RELATED: Peaceful demonstrators in downtown Tampa march for George Floyd

Warren says he personally reviewed each case of the 67 people Tampa Police arrested for unlawful assembly during George Floyd protests in downtown Tampa the night of June 2.

“There’s no indication of violence, vandalism, destruction of property, attacks on law enforcement officers that would give rise to an unlawful assembly charge or any other criminal charge,” said Warren.

Tampa Police had declared an all unlawful assembly that night, when they said what began as a peaceful protest started getting out of hand.

Warren says he has discussed his decision with the mayor, chief of olice, and the Hillsborough sheriff.

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Let’s be clear, I’m not saying these are bad arrests. The fact that the arrests were made is a different decision then we make us prosecutors whether to go forward,” said Warren.

Over the weekend, dozens of people protested in front of Warren‘s downtown offices in Tampa demanding he drop the charges.

On Monday, local pastors representing Tampa’s African American churches praised Warren’s decision, calling it a start.

“We are not celebrating as if we have finished the race,” said Pastor Larry Roundtree with New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. “This is a milestone in a lifelong marathon.”

“I would simply use the terms of unfinished business. We are not done,” added Pastor Christopher Harris with Crossover Church.

The state attorney’s office is still reviewing dozens of other cases where people were arrested for crimes other than unlawful assembly.

Warren says he supports those who continue to protest peacefully but issued a warning to those who would use the demonstrations - and his decision - as an opportunity to break the law.

“While we have no intention of prosecuting people who are peacefully protesting, we will not tolerate people looking to exploit this moment,” said Warren. “There’s no place for violence or destruction that creates a risk to the citizens of our community including law-enforcement.”

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