A CNN reporter was arrested on live television along with his camera crew and a security guard about dawn Friday by state troopers and briefly detained after the correspondent identified himself as a journalist covering unrest in Minneapolis following the death this week of George Floyd.
A compliant Omar Jimenez was handcuffed behind his back about 5 a.m. and led away from the scene by two troopers in riot gear after saying he worked for CNN and was ready to "move back to where you like ... just let us know."
The State Patrol explained in a tweet that "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."
The scene around Jimenez was relatively calm at the time of his apprehension, unlike at other times this week in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul.
CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement read on the air about 6:10 a.m. that he spoke with Gov. Tim Walz, who apologized for the arrest of Jimenez and was working to have him and his two camera crew members released immediately.
Sure enough, the camera was being held by someone who appeared to not know it was live as it sent silent footage over the air while CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota said, "We believe they are being released and walking out."
Moments later, Jimenez stood outside near where and his crew had been held and explained what happened.
He said that someone who ran past him and his crew on the street, "and then [law enforcement] turned their attention toward us" and took he and the others into custody.
While detained, Jimenez said, everyone "was pretty cordial" and showed "no animosity, not violent with me." He added that a person hired to provide security for the crew also was apprehended and later released.
Zucker said Walz called the arrest "totally inadvertent" and added that the media need to be in the Twin Cities covering the aftermath of Floyd's death Monday soon after being detained by police.
Walz said later Friday said that he takes "full responsibility" for the arrests, "there is no reason that should happen. ... I am deeply apologetic that this happened."
Star Tribune reporter Chris Snowbeck, president of the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, said in a statement, "Police, State Patrol and other law enforcement officers should be well aware of the importance of the media whose job it is to document and report on breaking news for the benefit of the general public.
"We implore the responding parties to alert their officers on the rights of the press and the necessity of their presence as they continue to report on the current unrest."
The network replayed the arrest of its reporter as Camerota condemned the action and CNN's Twitter account called the action a First Amendment violation.
"He was doing his job by the book presenting his credentials" to law enforcement personnel, she said to viewers.
Another CNN anchor, Brooke Baldwin, went to Twitter and identified the crew in full:
"Let's name all of them: CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez, CNN Producer Bill Kirkos and CNN Photojournalist Leonel Mendez — ARRESTED by Minnesota State Police for lawfully doing their jobs."
Not lost on the network and others was the fact that Jimenez is a person of color while a white CNN working the same scene and not arrested, Josh Campbell, was left to do his job. CNN said on the air that Jimenez is of Hispanic heritage who identifies as black.
"A black reporter from CNN was arrested while legally covering the protests in Minneapolis," CNN pointed out on Twitter. "A white reporter also on the ground was not."
Star Tribune staff writer Briana Bierschbach contributed to this report.