Watch Police Arrest a CNN Crew Live on Air While They Cover Protests in Minneapolis

CNN called the arrests "a clear violation of their First Amendment rights."
May 29, 2020, 12:00pm
minenapolis protests CNN arrest
Bearing witness to the historic reckoning with systemic racism, and amplifying dialogue to drive change that delivers on the promise of racial equality.

State troopers who were called in to quell police brutality protests in Minneapolis arrested a CNN reporter and his crew live on air on Friday morning.

The incredible scene unfolded live on CNN’s “New Day,” as reporter Omar Jimenez was describing the scenes around the 3rd Precinct police headquarters, which protesters responding to the police killing of George Floyd had set on fire on Thursday night.

Moments before he was arrested, Jimenez described how police and fire crews had arrived at the police station, and police in riot gear had immediately begun dispersing protesters using pepper spray and batons.

READ: Here's What You Need to Know About the George Floyd Protests That Just Went National

Then, state troopers surrounded the journalist and his crew while he remained on air. He clearly told the officers that he was still broadcasting and that he would be willing to move wherever they directed him to go.

"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 said.

But then, Jimenez was informed he was being arrested. He asked why and was not given an answer.

Police then proceeded to arrest Jimenez's crew, including producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mende, who were all placed in handcuffs.

Jimenez and the crew were released from detention after about 90 minutes, after Gov. Tim Walz told the network’s president Jeff Zucker on a phone call that he "deeply apologizes" for what happened and was working to have the team released immediately.

CNN blasted the arrest, calling it “a clear violation of their First Amendment rights.”

The network suggested that the arrest of Jimenez could have been linked to the fact that he is black, pointing out that a white CNN reporter in the same place was not arrested.

In a Friday morning press conference, Walz said that he apologized to CNN president Jeff Zucker soon after the arrest took place.

“I take full responsibility, there is absolutely no reason something like this should happen,” he said. Walz also added that he “failed” last night by not being more transparent with the press on Thursday night.

CNN crew were in Minneapolis to cover the third night of protests following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Floyd was heard repeatedly telling the officer he couldn’t breathe before he became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead in hospital an hour later.

Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson John Elder told VICE News his officers were not present at the scene and directed questions to the Minnesota State Patrol, who conducted the arrest. The State Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The State Patrol did, however, attempt to claim the arrest was a case of mistaken identity. In a tweet, the Patrol said the three crew members were released once the police realized they were part of the media — though it didn’t explain how the police officers didn’t know the crew was from CNN given the reporter clearly told the officers several times they were broadcasting live on air.

Update 12:24 p.m. ET: The text has been updated to include further comment from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

Cover: CNN