MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized Friday morning after a CNN reporter was arrested in Minneapolis while reporting on the unrest in the city live on air.
Omar Jimenez was led away in handcuffs shortly after 6 a.m. by the Minnesota State Patrol. Also arrested were producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez.
The crew was near the 3rd Precinct when state troopers and members of the National Guard began clearing the streets at daybreak. The journalists were coverings the second night of fires and looting in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the State Patrol said the CNN crew was released once “they were confirmed to be members of the media.”
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.
— MN State Patrol (@MnDPS_MSP) May 29, 2020
CNN said that the governor spoke with the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, and apologized, taking full responsibility.
Speaking on CNN after being released shortly before 7 a.m., Jimenez said the officers treated him cordially. However, he said that what actually gave him comfort was that the arrest was shown live on TV.
“The country was seeing what was happening…right before their eyes,” he said. “You don’t have to doubt my story, it’s not filtered in any sort of way.”
CNN noted on air that Jimenez, who is black, was arrested while just blocks away another network reporter, who is white, was not.
— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2020
The National Association of Black Journalists condemned the arrest on Twitter.
“It is unfathomable and upsetting to witness this structural racism in real time,” the group wrote.
The protest and riots began this week following the release of cellphone video showing Floyd’s fatal encounter with Minneapolis police. On the video, a white officer can be seen pinning his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, as the 46-year-old man says repeatedly that he can’t breathe. Floyd, who is black, died shortly after.
All four officers involved in the encounter were fired Tuesday. Not one has been arrested or charged in Floyd’s death.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, expressed frustration Friday over the fact that Jimenez was arrested in Minnesota but the officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck wasn’t.
“Enough,” he tweeted. “A black reporter was arrested while doing his job this morning, while the white police officer who killed George Floyd remains free. I am glad swift action was taken, but this, to me, says everything.”
Biden added that he will be speaking more about the unrest in Minnesota later Friday.
This is not abstract: a black reporter was arrested while doing his job this morning, while the white police officer who killed George Floyd remains free. I am glad swift action was taken, but this, to me, says everything.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 29, 2020