CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was arrested by Minnesota State Patrol Friday morning in the middle of a live broadcast, stunning the anchors reporting from CNN’s studio. The arrest occurred while Jimenez was reporting on the aftermath of another night of protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday.
Before his arrest, Jimenez is seen identifying himself as a reporter and assuring officers that he and his film crew will move to whatever location they needed him to. After some muted grumblings by the officers, Jimenez continued with his report until he was placed under arrested 30 seconds later.
“Why am I under arrest, sir?” Jimenez asked as he was handcuffed. He was led away by police officers. Moments later, the rest of his crew—producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez—were apprehended. When asked why they were arrested, the police did not offer a reason.
CNN reports that CNN reporter Josh Campbell was in the area at the time and was also approached by Minnesota State Police.
“I identified myself ... they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,’” Campbell said. “I was treated much differently than [Jimenez] was.”
Campbell is white. Jimenez is Afro-Latino.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz apologized to CNN president Jeff Zucker and promised to get Jimenez and his team released immediately. Nearly four hours after the arrest, Jimenez was back on the air.
In a tweet, the Minneapolis State Patrol released the following statement:
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.
But CNN refuted this characterization in a tweet, saying, “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.”
That the police mischaracterized the situation isn’t shocking, nor the fact that the police saw it fit to arrest a reporter for no valid reason. But the shock in the voices of the CNN anchors watching the events unfold suggests that there is a broad disconnect in journalism between what the police say and what actually occurs. This incident should prompt outlets like CNN to have greater scrutiny toward official police statements in the future, as massive media entities such as these tend to take what the police say at face value. After all, most people who are apprehended by the police for similarly don’t have the privilege of getting an apology from the governor.