CNN crew released from police custody after they were arrested live on air in Minneapolis

CNN president Jeff Zucker spoke with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz following the arrest of CNN's team in Minneapolis. Walz said he "deeply apologizes" for what happened and described the arrests as "unacceptable."

Posted: May 29, 2020 10:08 AM
Updated: May 29, 2020 1:00 PM


A CNN crew was arrested while giving a live television report Friday morning in Minneapolis -- and then released about an hour later -- as the crew covered ongoing protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd.

State police detained CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, his producer and his photojournalist shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET) as Jimenez was reporting live from a street south of downtown, near where a police precinct building was earlier set ablaze.

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 to police before he was led away.

'We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection,' Jimenez continued.

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.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker that he deeply apologizes for what happened and would work to have the crew released.

Later, after the crew was freed, Walz told reporters: 'We have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell the story.'

The troopers were clearing the area at Walz's direction, he said, adding there was 'absolutely no reason' for the arrests and that he takes full responsibility.

Stelter: Arresting reporters at a protest is an affront to the First Amendment

Jimenez and the others -- producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez -- had been taken to the city's downtown public safety building after their arrest, but were released after 6 a.m. CT.

Jimenez, after his release, reported live outside from downtown and said he'd been treated cordially after he'd been led away.

'We're doing OK, now. There were a few uneasy moments there,' Jimenez said.

The Minneapolis State Patrol said this about the incident:

'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.'

CNN 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.'

Another CNN reporter says he was 'treated much differently'

CNN's Josh Campbell, 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. Kirkos is white, and Mendez is Hispanic.

'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 shortly after their arrest.

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.'

The crew's arrest is a counterpoint, CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers said, to anyone who says, 'All you have to do is comply; all you have to do is use your nice inside voice, and the police will leave you alone.'

'We have a white reporter on the ground, and we have a brown reporter on the ground. They are a block apart. The brown reporter is arrested and the white reporter is telling us what's happening,' Sellers said.

'We saw a reporter who is educated, who is brown, who is doing his job better than anybody ... (who) was in harm's way, letting the American people see what's going on, on the ground. He complied. He said he would move. ... You almost have to laugh not to just be furious.'

What happened before the arrest

Hours before the CNN crew's arrest, crowds charged over a fence and threw firecrackers at the Third Precinct building overnight. Minneapolis police officers deserted the building, which eventually was set ablaze.

More fires burned, including at a four-story building that had contained restaurants and an event space down the street from the precinct.

Police appeared to have abandoned the area for hours. Crowds had thinned, though some people still were throwing things into the burning four-story building, Jimenez reported around 4:30 a.m. CT.

Right before 5 a.m. CT, more than 100 state police officers in body armor and riot gear arrived in the area. Firefighters also arrived, spraying water on the burning commercial building.

Intermittently, an officer told people over a loudspeaker to 'disperse immediately' or face arrest.

By the time Jimenez was reporting live shortly after 5 a.m. CT, troopers were advancing down the street where Jimenez was standing.

The troopers soon approached the three-person crew while moving in to arrest a fourth person behind them.

After the crew was detained, Mendez's camera was set on the ground and continued to transmit live images.

Journalists assert First Amendment rights to press freedom when covering protests in public spaces, and infringements are relatively rare in the United States.

Numerous journalists were detained while covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. At the time, The American Society of News Editors called it a 'top-down effort to restrict' First Amendment rights.

The arrests wound up being embarrassing for the police, and four of the journalists sued St. Louis County. In a settlement deal in 2016, the county agreed 'to adopt policy changes that will address the issues raised by this lawsuit.'

Since then, researchers at the US Press Freedom Tracker have counted a handful of other cases of journalists taken into custody while covering protests.

West Lafayette
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 89°
Kokomo
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
Rensselaer
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 83°
Fowler
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 83°
Williamsport
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 89°
Crawfordsville
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 86°
Frankfort
Overcast
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 86°
Delphi
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 85°
Monticello
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 85°
Logansport
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 84°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45952

Reported Deaths: 2650
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11387679
Lake4872240
Elkhart308543
Allen2677114
St. Joseph184965
Cass16369
Hamilton1484100
Hendricks136699
Johnson1235118
Porter68537
Madison64363
Tippecanoe6408
Clark62244
Bartholomew57844
Howard54356
LaPorte53925
Kosciusko4952
LaGrange4596
Jackson4553
Noble44728
Vanderburgh4306
Hancock42935
Delaware42648
Boone42242
Shelby41625
Marshall4123
Floyd36344
Morgan32031
Montgomery28720
Grant28526
Clinton2792
Dubois2606
White25810
Monroe25628
Decatur24632
Henry23515
Lawrence23124
Vigo2248
Harrison20822
Dearborn20422
Warrick20129
Greene18431
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1547
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1286
Franklin1248
Steuben1232
Perry1209
Ripley1127
Carroll1092
Jasper1092
Wabash1072
Fayette967
Newton9510
Whitley814
Randolph764
Starke733
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson651
Washington641
Pulaski631
Knox620
Clay594
Rush573
Benton480
Adams451
Owen451
Gibson442
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey350
Spencer311
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland250
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0194

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events