A CNN crew reporting on the unrest in Minneapolis was arrested by state police officers while on live television, despite identifying themselves as reporters, the network said. The city was plunged into turmoil for a third night of protests in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed while in police custody.
Footage from CNN morning program "New Day" shows CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez reporting early in the morning, and then being approached by Minneapolis State Patrol.
A cameraperson who was arrested alongside Jimenez and his producer told CNN that police said they were being arrested for not moving to a new location after being directed to do so. However, footage shows that Jimenez and the crew informed the officers that they were reporters, and attempting to get out of the way.
"We can move back to where you'd like here. We are live on the air at the moment," Jimenez is heard saying to police officers approaching him in riot gear. "Wherever you'd want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection."
Two police officers are shown grabbing Jimenez's arms and informing him that he is under arrest.
"Okay. Do you mind telling me why I am under arrest, sir?" Jimenez asks as the officers pull his arms behind his back to handcuff him. Another member of the CNN crew is heard informing the officers that they are live on television.
Jimenez's producer, Bill Kirkos, and the cameraperson, Leonel Mendez, were then arrested.
CNN reporter Josh Campbell, who was also on the ground in Minneapolis in a different part of the city, told "New Day" anchors John Berman and Alisyn Camerota that he had the "opposite" experience of Jimenez.
"I identified myself, I told them who I was with, they said, 'okay, you're permitted to be in this area,'" Campbell said. He expressed shock that the police arrested Jimenez and his crew after they identified themselves and informed the officers that they were reporting live. Campbell is white, and Jimenez is black.
CNN later reported that CNN president Jeff Zucker spoke to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who said he "deeply apologizes" for the arrest of Jimenez and his crew.
Jimenez, who was released later in the morning, reported that there was "no animosity" from the officers and said they told him they were following orders. Jimenez also said that while it was a shocking experience, he was comforted that it occurred on live TV.
"The one thing that gave me a little bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV," Jimenez said, explaining that this allowed others to speak out on his behalf.
Minnesota State Patrol confirmed the arrests in a tweet.
"In the course of clearing the streets and restoring order at Lake Street and Snelling Avenue, four people were arrested by State Patrol troopers, including three members of a CNN crew. The three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media," the tweet said. Jimenez and his crew had identified themselves as media while being arrested.
The arrest of Jimenez and the CNN crew comes after President Trump waded into the controversy to condemn the protesters and seemingly advocate for violence. Mr. Trump called the protesters "thugs" and said that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The tweet was quickly flagged by Twitter as one that could glorify violence.
First published on May 29, 2020 / 7:56 AM
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