MINNEAPOLIS — A CNN crew was arrested by Minnesota state police Friday morning while giving a live television report in Minneapolis, where the crew was covering ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd — an arrest that has drawn an apology from the state’s governor.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker that he deeply apologizes for what happened, and that he is working to have the CNN crew released immediately.
The correspondent and his crew have been released from police custody. The team was released from the Hennepin County Public Safety facility in downtown Minneapolis.
The crew, including correspondent Omar Jimenez, were handcuffed and detained as Jimenez gave a live report on a Minneapolis street shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET).
Police told the crew they were being detained because they were told to move and didn’t, one member of the CNN crew relayed to the network.
“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, including the Governor, must release the three CNN employees immediately,” CNN said in a statement.
Officers approached the crew –– which also included producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez — as they moved in to arrest a protester behind them.
Jimenez could be seen holding his CNN badge while reporting, identifying himself as a reporter, and telling the officers the crew would move wherever officers needed them to. An officer gripped his arm as Jimenez talked, then put him in handcuffs.
“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.
“We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection,” Jimenez said.
After the CNN photographer was arrested, his camera was set on the ground and continued to transmit live images.
Jimenez and the crew had been reporting from the site, near a city police department precinct that protesters had burned and officers had abandoned overnight. About a block away, a fire was burning at a different, four-story building that had contained restaurants.
Over 100 state police officers in body armor and riot gear had arrived shortly before 5 a.m. CT and lined up near the area where the CNN crew was, near the precinct building on East Lake Street.
For a portion of time overnight — from sometime after city police abandoned the precinct building that was set ablaze — police weren’t in the area until the troopers arrived Friday morning, Jimenez had reported. The four-story event and restaurant building was burning unabated, and people were throwing things into the flames, Jimenez said.
A separate CNN reporter there was not arrested and ‘treated much differently‘
CNN’s Josh Campell, who also was in the area but not standing with the on-air crew, said he, too, was approached by police, but was allowed to remain.
“I identified myself … they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,'” recounted Campbell, who is white. “I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was.”
Jimenez is black and Latino.
Former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey, a CNN law enforcement analyst, said the arrest made no sense.
“State police are going to have a lot to answer for this arrest here,” Ramsey said. “(Jimenez is) standing there … you can see his credential. Just move him where you want to be.”
“They should have a designated (media) area, and just tell them to move to that area.”