Officers gave no explanation as they escorted reporter Omar Jimenez away. He had just shown a protester being arrested when about half a dozen police officers in gas masks surrounded him. More than an hour later, the crew was released.
“What gave me one bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV,” Jimenez told viewers after he was released. “You don’t have to doubt my story it’s not filtered in any way; you saw it with your own eyes.”
The striking footage of the arrest could add to racial tension in the city and across the country, where sympathy protests have taken place. Jimenez is black, while most of the police officers who arrested him appeared to be white.
Thursday marked a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in the Minnesota city over the death of a black man, George Floyd, seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck.
“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 wrote on Twitter before the crew were released.
CNN anchor John Berman told viewers about an hour after the arrest that CNN President Adam Zucker had spoken with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who said he “deeply apologizes” and was working to have the crew released immediately.
Jimenez said the crew had been standing on a street for about an hour and a half before police activity kicked up. They moved onto a corner to get out of the way, he said.
On air, Jimenez told the officers wearing gas masks and face shields that he wanted to know where to move to get out of their way and explained he was a member of the press.
“This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, seeing and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away,” Jimenez said before being told he was under arrest and handcuffed by two officers. “Why am I under arrest, sir?”
Walz declared a state of emergency in Minnesota and ordered the National Guard activated.
In an emotional press conference on Friday morning, Walz formally apologized to CNN for the arrest.
He described the arrests as “unacceptable” and acknowledged that the CNN team had the right to be there to cover the protests.
U.S. President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that looters would be shot. Twitter hid Trump’s tweet with a warning for “glorifying violence.”
Protests also erupted in other major cities around the country, including Louisville, Kentucky, where police said seven people had been shot.