Members of a CNN crew were arrested early Friday morning during their live broadcast as they covered the riots in Minneapolis, which broke out this week in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on Monday.
Shortly after 5 a.m, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his team, including producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez, were arrested and placed in handcuffs after Jimenez identified himself to police officers. Police also took the CNN camera into custody as it continued to record.
Jimenez and the crew had been reporting live on an arrest occurring near the 3rd police precinct building, which rioters set ablaze late Thursday night and which police had abandoned. He stood in front of a line of police officers wearing riot gear. Police officers asked Jimenez and his team to move, at which Jimenez identified them as all part of the same CNN team and showed his credentials.
— New Day (@NewDay) May 29, 2020
“We can move back to where you’d like. We can move back to where you’d like here. We are live on the air at the moment,” Jimenez told the officers. “Just put us back where you want us. We’re getting out of your way. So, just let us know.”
A couple of minutes later, two police officers approached Jimenez and informed him that he was under arrest.
“Why am I under arrest, sir?” Jimenez asked before he was cuffed and led away by the officers. The other members of team were arrested and led away moments later.
The CNN crew members were detained at Hennepin County Public Safety facility and were released from custody over an hour later.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz later said he “deeply apologizes” for the arrests and called the incident “unacceptable.”
The Minneapolis State Patrol released a statement about the incident claiming that three members of the CNN crew were released after they were discovered to be members of the media.
“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 three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media,” the statement said.
CNN disputed the accuracy of the police statement.
“This is not accurate – our CNN crew identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists,” the network said.
Before the eventual release of the journalists, CNN criticized the arrests, slamming them as a First Amendment violation, and calling for the release of the team.
“A CNN reporter & 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 CNN communications Twitter account wrote. “The authorities in Minnesota, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately.”