Dozens of people are facing charges for their alleged roles in the looting and mayhem that trailed the protests across Los Angeles County since Saturday, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Wednesday.
From the mayhem that happened through Santa Monica and Beverly Hills over the weekend, 17 people face charges ranging from looting to burglary.
61 people have been charged with crimes related to the civil unrest. Most are charged with looting while a handful face charges including assault and battery on a peace officer, robbery, burglary, possession of a destructive device, identity theft and receiving stolen property, according to the District Attorney's Office. The 61 cases represent just a fraction of the more than 2,000 arrests made over the last few days.
According to the district attorney, felony looting carries a potential maximum three-year county jail sentence. Some of the people charged with looting may have to post bail since a state of emergency was declared in Los Angeles County, officials said.
"I support the peaceful organized protests that already have brought needed attention to racial inequality throughout our society, including in the criminal justice system," Lacey said in a written statement. "I also have a constitutional and ethical duty to protect the public and prosecute people who loot and vandalize our community."
Lacey, herself, has been the subject of demonstrations with protesters calling for her resignation. Her critics contend she has been insufficiently aggressive in prosecuting police for alleged misconduct. In response, she pointed out that she is the state's only prosecutor with an active case against an officer and cited a string of police misconduct prosecutions under her tenure even though many end without conviction. Activists from Black Lives Matter staged another in a series of protests outside Lacey's office on Wednesday.
These cases may just be the initial spate of charges with additional potential cases to be presented by various law enforcement agencies later this week. Other potential cases not yet turned over to the District Attorney's Office because some people who were arrested over the past several days were cited and released.
The District Attorney's Office prosecutes all felony cases in the county and misdemeanors that occur in unincorporated areas of the county and in most cities.
Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Torrance, Burbank, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach prosecute misdemeanor offenses that occur in their jurisdictions.