A black CNN reporter was arrested early Friday morning while covering the ongoing protests on the ground in Minneapolis. Omar Jimenez was arrested and taken into custody during a live broadcast of the protests responding to the police killing of George Floyd. Jimenez was reporting live from where the Third Police Precinct had been set on fire overnight. CNN’s camera crew was also detained.
The entirety of the arrest was broadcast live. Jimenez can be heard at the start of the broadcast telling state patrol the crew is “getting out of your way,” and tells them “wherever you want us, we will go.” Just moments later, state patrol told Jimenez he was under arrest, reportedly telling the crew they were being detained because they were told to move and didn’t.
Minnesota State Patrol is already trying to re-frame the narrative, despite the fact that the entire arrest can be witnessed on video. Officers said in a misleading tweet that the crew was released “once they were confirmed to be members of the media.” However, Jimenez and his camera crew had identified themselves to police and were complying with police orders before their arrest.
In a statement, CNN called the arrest “a clear violation of their First Amendment rights” and urged the authorities and the governor of Minnesota to “release the three CNN employees immediately.” After being taken to the Minneapolis public safety building, Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were all released after 6am local time (11am GMT).
"We're doing OK, now. There were a few uneasy moments there," Jimenez said. While recounting his arrest in a later report, Jimenez told CNN, “ I am thankful that it happened on live TV, so that you are able to see it, I was able — I lived it, and people around the country were able to watch and see how it unfolded so there is no doubt as to what happened.” He is now back reporting from the streets.
Not far from where Jimenez was reporting, another CNN reporter Josh Campbell, who is white, was “treated much differently” after identifying himself to police, he said. Campbell was not arrested, and was allowed to continue reporting in the area. CNN's chief national security correspondent also noted the difference in treatment of white reporters in the US.
"As a reporter, I’ve been detained in Iran, spied on in China, and followed and harassed in Russia. I’ve never had colleagues arrested and handcuffed while doing their job here in the US.," he tweeted.
Many people have responded to Jimenez’s arrest online. Rebecca Kavanaugh, a Criminal Defence and Civil Rights Attorney pointed to the fact that the four officers involved in Floyd’s death have still not been arrested, but a Black journalist was arrested “live on TV for reporting about [the] failure to do just that.”
Filmmaker Ava Duverney called Jimenez’s arrest “a turning point in the war that Trump is waging,” asking, “what will you do?”
Jimenez’s arrest occurs at a time when the city has been under distress for several days following Floyd’s murder. The community has taken to the streets with grief and rage, in their demands for the arrests of the four officers who killed him.