CNN reporter arrested while covering Minneapolis protests, governor apologizes

Minnesota Governor, Tim Waltz, reached out directly to CNN's president and had the journalist and crew released within an hour

Omar Jimenez
CNN reporter Omar Jimenez is arrested by Minneapolis police officers on Thursday night. (Photo: CNN)

CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were detained by Minnesota State Police while covering civil unrest in Minneapolis live on-air.

Jimenez, who is Afro-Latino, immediately presented his CNN badge and identified himself as a reporter, but still was arrested.

READ MORE: Minneapolis police station set afire during George Floyd protests

“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 before he was led away, according to CNN.

“We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection,” Jimenez said.

Omar Jimenez

CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, arrested by state patrol. (Screenshot from video)

The arrest of Jimenez was compounded by the fact that fellow CNN reporter, Josh Campbell, who was reporting a block away was not arrested. Campbell is white.

“I identified myself … they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,'” Campbell said, “I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was.”

During the arrest, Jimenez continued to report. He asks, “Can you tell you why I’m being arrested, sir?” 

The journalist was arrested first. Mendez, the cameraman assigned to his coverage,  continued to film until the camera was no longer in his possession and he was arrested.  At some point, the authorities pick up the camera without a clue that it was still recording.

The network reports that Jimenez and his crew were released an hour later. 

CNN Communications/ PR tweeted a statement shortly after the arrest saying that Jimenez and his team were “doing their jobs,” and called the arrest a violation of their first amendment rights. 

Minnesota Governor, Tim Waltz, offered an apology to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, and worked to have the reporter and crew released. 

Jimenez stated that he was given no reason for his arrest, outside of a Minnesota State Trooper telling him that he “was just following orders.” 

The Minneapolis State Patrol has its own account as to why the CNN crew was picked up during the protest: the ensemble was simply caught up in a routine sweep and since they did not identify themselves, they were detained.

CNN immediately disputed the state police characterization 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.”

CNN later released the entire video of the arrest to substantiate their dispute of the police.

READ MORE: Masked white man smashing Minneapolis AutoZone windows in viral video raises suspicion

In a show of solidarity, MSNBC offered their collegial support by condemning through their communications arm the actions of the police department.

Fox News also issued a statement to theGrio in support of CNN. “FOX News Channel has always supported the First Amendment and this instance is no different,” the statement said.

“We denounce the detainment of the CNN crew and stand with them in protecting the right to report without fear or favor.”

The crew was in Minneapolis covering civil unrest that has occurred over three nights since the police killing of George Floyd. Over the past three days, several businesses and a police precinct have all burned to the ground. 

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