Police in Minneapolis arrested black CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez on live TV Friday morning.
CNN’s live broadcast on New Day showed a group of cops in riot gear surrounding Jimenez as he clearly identified himself as a reporter to them. Jimenez calmly and politely asked the officers where they would like him and his crew to place themselves, then one officer told the reporter that he was under arrest without further explanation. A white correspondent who was also approached by police was allowed to stay in the area.
Jimenez’s crew, including a producer and a camera operator, were also placed in handcuffs, according to the network. They were named as Bill Kirkos and Leonel Mendez. The CNN camera continued to record as the crew was handcuffed, with police seemingly unaware that the camera was still broadcasting live.
The arrest drew an apology from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and the team was released around an hour after their arrest.
The crew was reporting from the city following the third day of protests against the death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old unarmed black man died after shocking footage showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
Immediately before the CNN reporter’s arrest, Jimenez was heard telling cops: “Just put us back where you want us, we were getting out of your way. So, just let us know. Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way while you were advancing through the intersection. Just let us know, and we’ve got you.”
After his release, Jimenez described what he was thinking as he was led away. “It did cross my mind that—what is really happening here? —the one thing that gave me a little bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV. When you talk within the community with, let’s just say what’s happened with George Floyd, there’s always a discussion that what’s happening isn’t new—it’s being filmed.
“That speaks to the power of having something happen on camera because you can have people speak up for you without you saying anything. That gave me a little bit of comfort knowing that you guys saw what was happening, I was living what was happening, and the country was seeing what was happening unfold in real time right before their eyes.”
He added: “You don’t have to doubt my story, it’s not filtered in any sort of way, you saw it for your own eyes and that gave me a little bit of comfort. It definitely was nerve-wracking, at certain points.”
Before the team was released, CNN posted a statement saying: “A CNN reporter and his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves—a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. The authorities in Minnesota, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately.”
Shortly after the statement was posted, CNN reported that network president Jeff Zucker spoke with the Gov. Walz who “deeply apologized” for the “unacceptable” arrests.
Fellow CNN correspondent Josh Campell, who was also reporting from the city, said he was approached by police but was allowed to stay in the area to do his job. “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.”
New Day host Alisyn Camerota said to Campbell: “Josh, it’s just impossible not to note the difference, you are a white guy, Omar Jimenez identifies as black and Latino and—since the police didn’t give us much of an explanation for what they were doing against the backdrop of these fires burning and of George Floyd’s death—it’s just impossible not to note the difference here.”
Minnesota State Patrol’s statement to explain the arrests, which was posted on Twitter, was widely ridiculed. Despite footage of Jimenez showing his credentials to officers before his arrest being shown live on TV, the patrol said it decided to release the crew “once they were confirmed to be members of the media.”