A CNN crew comprised of three people was arrested while live on the air amid the protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, who was seen in footage being pinned down with a knee to his neck by since-fired officer Derek Chauvin.
"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," a network rep said in a statement shortly after the arrest early Friday. "The authorities in Minnesota, including the Governor, must release the three CNN employees immediately."
The chilling footage, seen above, shows correspondent Omar Jimenez in the middle of a report when officers approach to detain a protester. Then, Jimenez—who is black and Latino—is seen showing his CNN badge to the cops before ultimately being told live on the air that he is being arrested. As Jimenez asks for a reason, he is escorted away from the site. Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were ultimately taken to a nearby public safety building and released around 6 a.m. local time.
Another reporter from the network, Josh Campbell, noted that he was also approached by cops in the same area. His interaction, however, ended much differently. That reporter, who is white, said on Friday that he was allowed to stay after identifying himself.
As expected, Minnesota State Patrol have also shared a statement on the arrest, claiming it was part of a "clearing the streets and restoring order" effort. They also claimed that the arrested individuals were released once confirmed to be members of the media, despite footage clearly showing that the CNN crew was indeed a CNN crew.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz also made a statement regarding the egregious arrest during a press briefing on Friday afternoon.
"I also want to address an issue and this one is on me and I will own it," Walz said in the briefing. "Earlier this morning when this mission was carried out, under my direction to re-secure the third precinct, to do so in a manner which I am proud of how it was executed by this team, no injuries and no loss of life, a reestablishment to put the fires out for those businesses, a CNN reporter, a crew, was arrested by the state patrol. A few minutes after hearing that, I was on a call with CNN president Jeff Zucker who demanded to know what happened.
He would continue: "I take full responsibility. There is absolutely no reason something like this should happen. Calls were made immediately. This is a very public apology to that team. It should not happen. And I want to be clear for those of you listening. I think our Minnesota reporters know this. I am a teacher by trade, and I have spent my time as governor highlighting the need to be as transparent as possible and have the press here. I failed you last night in that. And it does not escape me that we are here on the catalyst that lit the spark by what happened with a police detainment of George Floyd, and the idea that a reporter would have been taken while another police action was in play is inexcusable."
He closed by pressing the fact that he plans to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.
As many have pointed out since the harrowing on-air moment, it's maddening that a journalist can be arrested while simply doing their job, yet the officers at the center of George Floyd's death still have no charges brought against them.