WASHINGTON — On Friday, the Minnesota State Patrol arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez as he and his colleagues were reporting on the ongoing protests in Minneapolis. Jimenez, who is Afro-Latinx, and his crew were handcuffed and led away by police. The journalists' cameras continued rolling, broadcasting the unjustified arrest live to CNN viewers.
The footage shows that the news crew clearly identified themselves as members of the press and attempted to comply with police commands. A second nearby CNN journalist, who is white, reported that the police let him continue working after he identified his press status in a similar way. Jimenez and his colleagues have since been released.
Free Press News Voices Organizing Manager Alicia Bell made the following statement:
“The Minnesota State Patrol’s arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez as he and his crew were covering the protests in Minneapolis is yet another example of unchecked police power in our society. Jimenez, who clearly identified himself as a member of the press, was nonetheless targeted for arrest as at least one of his white colleagues was given the OK to continue reporting.
“It should go without saying, but the First Amendment protects newsgathering regardless of the race or ethnicity of the reporter. Freedom of the press is intended to prohibit law enforcement from silencing the voices of reporters and the protesters that they seek to cover.
“While we’re pleased to learn that Jimenez and his news crew have been released without charges, we demand that the Minnesota State Patrol conduct a thorough investigation of the arrest and provide a full accounting of why these particular journalists were taken into custody.
“Minneapolis-based racial-justice and civil-liberties advocates have documented a long history of systemic racism in state and local police. The Minneapolis Police Department failed to adopt many reforms that local community leaders and federal officials recommended. At least two of the police officers involved in George Floyd’s tragic death, including the officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, have a history of police misconduct and yet were allowed to remain on the force.
“Free Press supports Twin Cities activists’ ongoing calls for transformation. We also support local efforts to increase public safety by abandoning lethal policing practices and using valuable public resources to instead invest in the food, shelter, employment and local information that people need to keep themselves safe and healthy.
“Coverage of protests like the ones unfolding across the country is essential to informing the public and responding to the needs of our communities. Free Press is working with allies to reimagine crime-justice reporting, and eager to extend our work with newsrooms committed to deeper engagement — and ultimately, to shifting power away from the anti-Black status quo and toward a shared vision of the future.”