Minnesota state police are facing criticism for arresting a black and Hispanic CNN correspondent who was covering the unrest in the city while allowing a nearby white reporter to stay on the scene and continue reporting.
Omar Jiminez, who is black and Hispanic, was arrested on live television Friday morning along with members of his film crew as they were covering the protests that had spread across the city following the death of George Floyd. As CNN reported, state police arrested Jiminez, his producer, and his cameraman shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET) while they were reporting from downtown Minneapolis.
Jiminez and the film crew were taken to a public safety building and released close to an hour later. They later returned to reporting from the scene as police increased their presence and took control of parts of the city that in the hours before had been taken over by protesters.
As CNN noted, correspondent Josh Campbell, who is white, was close to the area where Jiminez and his crew were arrested. He and his crew were approached as well, but police allowed them to remain and did not arrest them.
“I identified myself… they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area,'” Campbell recounted. “I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was.”
CNN’s report focused heavily on the disparate treatment between Campbell and Jiminez, calling out state police for the arrest.
.@cnn now openly reporting that they believe their reporter Omar Jiminez was arrested because he is black. They are speaking with their white reporter, Josh Campbell, who is reporting only a block away and was approached by Police but not arrested. pic.twitter.com/qOvMH2GlyC
— Kirstin Ferguson (@kirstinferguson) May 29, 2020
The arrest has led to sharp criticism for Minnesota state police, with many calling the arrest an attack on the First Amendment. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an apology directly to CNN President Jeff Zucker shortly after the arrest, saying he was going to work to have the three journalists released.
CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, a former Philadelphia police commissioner, said there was no reason the three should have been arrested in the first place, especially given that they identified themselves as journalists.
“State police are going to have a lot to answer for this arrest here,” Ramsey said. “(Jimenez is) standing there… you can see his credential. Just move him where you want to be.”
“They should have a designated (media) area, and just tell them to move to that area.”
The arrests took place after a night of intensifying protests throughout the city. Late on Thursday, protesters breached the barrier at the Minneapolis police department’s 3rd Precinct building, where the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest had been stationed. The building was set on fire, along with several nearby buildings.