TAMPA -- At a news conference with the chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission and various community leaders, Hillsborough sheriff Chad Chronister sought to deliver a message that conditions on the county' streets Sunday night won't be allowed to deteriorate into what happened the night before. Echoing Tampa's police chief, he urged those who weren't looking for violence or mayhem to stay home tonight.
Chronister called the actions of four Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Floyd "repulsive" but said the looting and attacks on businesses that occurred around University Square Mall are "not the way anyone should react... to racism."
He accused those who committed violence of seeking to hijack and silence the voices of those calling for change, in the wake of Floyd's death Monday. "If you break the law, we will arrest you... we will lock you up. If you harm others... or their property... you will go to jail... You will not continue to spread fear and lawlessness," Chronister said.
Chronister was joined by national and local leaders in the NAACP, as well as Hillsborough County Commission chair Les Miller. He noted that people lost their jobs last night when Champs Sports burned to the ground and other businesses were vandalized or looted. At least one of the firms attacked at the mall is owned by an African-American.
"A black man who owns Shoe Mountain lost his job last night. A mother working two jobs probably (lost her job) at Champs Sports," Miller said.
Seven people were arrested in the county during last night's unrest. Two deputies suffered minor injuries and 15 sheriff's vehicles were damaged.