Police officers are seen in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 28, 2020. Police arrested a CNN crew filming protests in the city this morning. (Reuters/Adam Bettcher)

CNN team arrested while covering Minneapolis protests

Washington, D.C., May 29, 2020 — Minnesota police officers today arrested a CNN crew covering protests in Minneapolis while they were live on air, according to video from the broadcaster. In the footage, correspondent Omar Jimenez can be seen holding his press badge and crew members are heard identifying themselves as journalists and offering to move according to police direction.

The official Twitter account for the Minnesota State Patrol wrote that the three were released “once they were confirmed to be members of the media.”

“It’s difficult to imagine what police needed as ‘confirmation that these individuals were members of the media’ beyond Omar Jimenez showing his press badge while he spoke into a CNN camera surrounded by his producer and crew,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Journalists have a responsibility to report on matters of public interest, such as protests, and should be able to freely cover these events without fear of retaliation from authorities. These arrests ring of intimidation and are simply outrageous.” 

At about 5 a.m., police officers handcuffed and arrested Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez, according to the network’s report. Police released the team at about 6 a.m., according to CNN, which said that Minnesota Governor Tim Walz apologized for the incident and described it as “unacceptable” in a conversation with CNN president Jeff Zucker.

Journalists covering civil unrest can consult CPJ’s safety notes for advice on how to minimize the risks of reporting on protests.