CNN Reporter Arrested, Released Covering Protests of Floyd Death

(Bloomberg) -- A CNN reporter and his crew were arrested and released by police in Minneapolis early Friday, after a night of continued protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was handcuffed on the ground while police knelt on his back and neck.

CNN’s Omar Jimenez, who the cable network said identifies as black and Latino, and his producer, cameraman and a security guard they hired were arrested live on air Friday before being released later in the morning. They were covering the increasingly violent protests that have erupted over Floyd’s killing, which has renewed outcry about the deaths of black people at the hands of police in the U.S.

Jimenez and the television crew were released after CNN’s Jeff Zucker spoke with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. The officers were from the Minnesota State Patrol. According to CNN, Walz apologized to Zucker for the arrests.

Jimenez, speaking on CNN after his release, said the officers were cordial and not violent with him. He said he asked why he was arrested, and that an officer replied, “Look, I dunno man, I’m just following orders.”

The killing of Floyd has drawn widespread condemnation after a police officer knelt on his neck and ignored Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe. Mobile phone video of his death has fueled protests across the U.S. and calls for prosecution of the officers. Protests continued overnight, including the burning of the Third Precinct police station in Minneapolis.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Jimenez was arrested. He had offered to move to wherever officers asked him to. Josh Campbell, a CNN reporter who is white and also covering the protests, was a block away at the time and was not arrested. “The one thing that gave me a little bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV,” Jimenez said on CNN after his release.

The State Patrol claimed the crew was arrested and then released once it was confirmed they were media. Jimenez is heard on the video saying the four were a team, including a security guard CNN had hired, and that they were live on air.

CNN called the State Patrol statement inaccurate.

President Donald Trump has said the federal government will assume control of the situation if it’s not contained. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and I won’t let that happen,” he tweeted. He added the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The quote was said by former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley during a December 1967 news conference at a time that city was undergoing racial disturbances, according to The Washington Post.

Twitter then slapped a warning label on the tweet, saying it was “glorifying violence,” escalating the feud between the social media company and Trump, one of its highest-profile users. Trump has called on Congress to remove the liability shield that U.S. tech giants have, potentially exposing them to a flood of lawsuits.

Trump repeatedly criticizes CNN, though his campaign criticized the arrests Friday. The mayor and governor “have completely lost control in Minneapolis in a catastrophic display of failed leadership,” Trump’s campaign tweeted. “The city is on fire & they outrageously arrested a CNN crew.”

CNN Communications said earlier that three Minneapolis employees were arrested for doing their job and demanded their immediate release.

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