CNN Reporter & Crew Arrested On-Air While Covering Minneapolis Protests

by Valerie Williams
CNN Reporter & Crew Arrested On-Air While Covering Minneapolis Protests

Minnesota police arrested a CNN reporter and his crew early this morning even after the reporter identified himself

Early this morning, May 29th, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez was reporting live from the scene of Minneapolis protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police on May 25th. Protestors have taken to the streets this week and the media has been documenting it, which is exactly what Jimenez and his crew were doing when police placed them under arrest for no discernible reason.

“We can move back to where you like. We are live on the air here. … Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way — wherever you want us (we’ll) get out of your way,” Jimenez said to police before he was arrested. “We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection,” he continued.

Police told Jimenez and crew they were being detained because they’d been asked to move and didn’t, a member of the crew told CNN. As the video clearly shows, the crew and reporter absolutely did offer to move. “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,” the network said on Twitter.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized to CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker and promised to work to have Jimenez and crew released. Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were brought to the city’s downtown public safety building, and released after 6:00 am.

Jimenez went back on air shortly after being released from police custody and told his story.

CNN’s Josh Campbell was also on the scene but reported different treatment from law enforcement. “I identified myself … they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,'” said Campbell, who is white. “I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was.” Jimenez is Black and Latino.

Former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey, a CNN law enforcement analyst, told the network the arrest was senseless. “State police are going to have a lot to answer for this arrest here,” Ramsey said. “(Jimenez is) standing there … you can see his credential. Just move him where you want to be.”

Ramsey had a solution for this problem of trying to keep reporters out of the fray and safely able to do their jobs. “They should have a designated (media) area, and just tell them to move to that area.”

CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers indicates that the arrest proves that following an officer’s orders isn’t always enough in avoiding tense encounters with police. “All you have to do is comply; all you have to do is use your nice inside voice, and the police will leave you alone,” he said. “We have a white reporter on the ground, and we have a brown reporter on the ground. They are a block apart. The brown reporter is arrested and the white reporter is telling us what’s happening,” Sellers said.

“We saw a reporter who is educated, who is brown, who is doing his job better than anybody … (who) was in harm’s way, letting the American people see what’s going on, on the ground. He complied. He said he would move. … You almost have to laugh not to just be furious.”