A CNN crew, headed by a black reporter, was reporting live on television Friday morning.
While covering the rioting in Minneapolis, he was arrested by police, prompting numerous members of the media to immediately decry the arrests as “an unacceptable attack on the free press” and a “violation of the First Amendment.”
CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, who is black and Latino, was arrested early Friday morning by police along with two other members of his crew while doing a live television report covering the rioting in Minneapolis. The other two CNN crew members who were arrested were producer Bill Kirkos, who was white, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez who is Hispanic.
The incident and later arrest happened as the crew was filming the ongoing protests. The live TV report captures Jimenez, who can be seen holding his CNN badge while reporting, identifying himself to officers as a reporter. He tells the officers that the crew will move wherever they are instructed to. But the officer grips Jimenez’ arm as he is explaining, and then places him in handcuffs.
— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2020
The officers tell Jimenez and his crew they are being detained because they were told to move and did not, according to CNN, as relayed by one member of the CNN crew to the network. The three-man crew was arrested at roughly 5 AM CT.
“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 Minneapolis State Patrol said regarding the incident. “The three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media.”
But CNN disputed the characterization of the event by the State Patrol, writing in a statement on Twitter: “This is not accurate — our CNN crew identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists. We thank Minnesota @GovTimWalz for his swift action this morning to aid in the release of our crew.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz intervened and the crew was released roughly an hour after their arrest around 6 AM CT.
CNN reporter Josh Campbell, who is white, was also in the area, but not standing with the live, on-air crew, CNN reported. Campbell says that he was also approached by police, but allowed to remain.
“I identified myself … they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,'” Campbell said. “I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was.”
A variety of members of the media swiftly came to the defense of arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and called his arrest “an unacceptable attack on the Free Press.”
Fox foreign correspondent Trey Yingst tweeted: “Police arrest CNN’s @OmarJimenez and his crew as they report live from Minneapolis. This is an unacceptable attack on the free press and a violation of the 1st amendment.”
Senior reporter at LBC and BBC Newsnight Matthew Thompson noted the irony, tweeting: “Are you actually kidding me? Minnesota police arrest a black CNN reporter live on air as he covers riots caused by police racism.”
New York Magazine and Huffington Post contributor Yashar Ali tweeted: “An outrageous infringement on press freedom.”
NBC reporter Ali Vitali tweeted: “Speechless. @OmarJimenez told law enforcement he was live on CNN, repeatedly offered to move wherever police wanted them to, and then was arrested without explanation on the air.”