Opinion

Minnesota State Police Arrest CNN Crew Live on Air


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An entire CNN crew including reporter Omar Jimenez have been arrested live on air by the Minnesota State Police whilst reporting on the rioting continuing in the area.

As Omar Jimenez was giving a live piece to camera, reporting on the current conditions on the ground, the Minnesota State Police arrested the entire CNN crew on the grounds that they didn’t move when asked to by the police officers.

Omar Jimenez and his team were arrested as he gave a report on CNN’s New Day shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET).

The issue for the Minnesota State Police however, is that the whole episode was broadcast live on CNN – viewers can make up their own minds on this one.

CNN swiftly released a statement in reaction to the shocking images aired around the world, saying; “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.”

My opinion is that this is gross breach of the rights of a journalist and his team to execute their duties in reporting the riots which were clearly still well underway.

Minnesota State Police are going to have to come up with a stunning response if they have any chance of trying to justify these actions.

Anything short of a grovelling apology will be nothing but an insult to this journalist, CNN and the global journalism community.

Is it any wonder why there is rioting when the Police act in such an egregious manner?

Omar Jimenez was swiftly released by the Police and returned has returned to air on CNN, just after 6:30 a.m. CT – 90 minutes after the incident. Jimenez said that once he was taken into custody, the police were “cordial”.

Jimenez added there was no “sorry this was a misunderstanding” from law enforcement officers when he and his colleagues were released from custody in the back of a police van.

Minnesota State Police have, rather perplexingly, attempted to justify their actions, by saying; “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.”

CNN immediately countered that account of the events, responding; “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.”

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, at a news conference said; “I take full responsibility, nothing like this should happen. This is a full apology to that team. I failed you last night.”

Global Reaction

Journalists and unions around the world have reacted furiously to the arrest, including current and former CNN colleagues.

Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said: “We are outraged at this blatant abuse of police powers and thinly disguised attempt to prevent proper scrutiny of police actions. From the President to the police it appears journalists are being routinely targeted, demonised and now arrested. This war on media freedom and journalists rights must stop”

The UK’s NUJ assistant general secretary, Seamus Dooley, added: “This is an extremely disturbing and sinister development. It is clear that the CNN team were working at the protest scenes in Minneapolis, informing the public of what was happening.

“It is not acceptable that journalists should be surrounded and arrested live on air for doing their job. The presence of the media in such situations is essential and is a core function of public interest journalism.

“The National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland strongly condemns the actions of the Minneapolis police and offers solidarity and support to journalist Omar Jiminez and CNN colleagues.”

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