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CNN Reporter Arrested on Live TV While Offering to Comply With Police [Update: Governor Sorry]

Illustration for article titled CNN Reporter Arrested on Live TV While Offering to Comply With Police [Update: Governor Sorry]
Photo: CNN

CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his camera crew were arrested Friday morning by Minnesota state police live on television in the aftermath of a protest over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of local police.

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In footage broadcast live on CNN, Jimenez can be heard calmly requesting orders from the police surrounding him, while explaining his crew of four had been trying to stay out of law enforcement’s way. They are surrounded by officers wearing gas masks and riot gear and holding batons.

In the live footage, Jimenez can be heard asking the officers where they’d like his crew to go. “We can move back to where you’d like,” he says twice, before telling them,“We are live on the air at the moment.” The police cannot be heard due to their masks.

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“Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection,” says Jimenez says, repeatedly requesting a command. “Just let us know and we got you.”

Jimenez then turns to the camera and continues reporting on the police response to the several acts of arson that occurred during the protests. A moment later, an officer is heard notifying Jimenez, “You’re under arrest.”

“Okay,” Jimenez says. The officers do not appear to respond when he asks why, though their mouths are covered and Jimenez is forced to drop his microphone.

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CNN’s studio anchor begin to chime in and sound completely stunned. “If you’re just tuning in, you are watching our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, being arrested by state police in Minnesota,” anchor John Berman says.

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The Minnesota State Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Jimenez, a journalist of color, was reporting on the third day of protests following the death of George Floyd. Protests erupted after viral video footage spread showing a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee against a handcuffed black man’s neck for several minutes.

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The man was later identified as Floyd, a 46-year-old African American from Houston, Texas.

Floyd is heard saying, “I can’t breath,” several times in the video and making repeated requests for medical attention. Officers are shown observing while appearing eerily calm as passersby yell for them to help and insist Floyd isn’t resisting. One points to blood apparently dripping from his nose.

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“They’re killing me. I can’t breathe,” Floyd is heard saying.

Protests demanding murder charges be brought against the four officers involved have spread across the U.S. In Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey ordered police to abandon the Third Precinct where the officers worked after it was clear they could not hold the building without firing on the demonstrators.

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After several officers were rescued from the precinct’s roof by helicopter, the building was breached by civilians and set ablaze.

Update, 7:40am: CNN reports that its president, Jeff Zucker, spoke with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who apologized for the arrest of Jimenez and his crew and took responsibility for the incident.

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“He deeply apologizes for what happened. He is working to have the CNN team released immediately. It was totally unacceptable and totally inadvertent, what happened,” Berman says, reading from a statement. “They clearly had the right to be there, the CNN team. We want the media there to cover this. It is never acceptable for this to happen. The governor accepts full responsibility.”

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Update, 8:30am: Jimenez and his crew have been released. Below is an interview with CNN about the events before and after his arrest:

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Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

Senior Reporter, Privacy & Security

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DISCUSSION

If respectfully listening to the police ends with citizens in handcuffs, what is the lesson here?

Burning down police precincts shouldn’t feel like the right choice. Why is law enforcement going out of their way to make it feel like the right choice?