Omar Jimenez, a black and Latino CNN correspondent, was arrested on live television Friday morning while covering the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis.
Shortly after 5 a.m. CT, Jimenez, his producer Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were put in handcuffs and taken into custody even after they were heard on camera identifying themselves as members of the media.
“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 told cops before his detainment.
Jimenez was also seen on camera holding up his CNN badge.
A CNN staffer later told the network that the three men were handcuffed because they were allegedly told by police to move and didn’t.
After Jimenez, Kirkos, and Mendez were taken to the city’s downtown public safety building, CNN wrote a tweet calling on Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to order their release.
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 authorities in Minnesota, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately.— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) May 29, 2020
Walz told CNN president Jeff Zucker that he “deeply apologizes” for the “unacceptable” arrests and would work to have the crew let go.
Jimenez, Kirkos, and Mendez were eventually released after 6 a.m. CT.
Following his release, Jimenez continued reporting in downtown Minneapolis and said he was treated cordially during the ordeal.
“We’re doing OK now. There were a few uneasy moments there,” Jimenez said on-air.
Fellow CNN correspondent Josh Campbell, who was in the area but did not stand with the on-air crew, said he was also approached by police but was not detained.
“I identified myself... They said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,’” Campbell recalled. “I was treated much differently than [Jimenez] was.”
While Mendez is Hispanic, both Kirkos and Campbell are white.
After the incident, Minnesota State Patrol wrote a tweet saying the three CNN crewmembers “were released once they were confirmed 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.— MN State Patrol (@MnDPS_MSP) May 29, 2020
However, CNN immediately disputed this statement, writing, “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.”