A veteran WCCO-TV cameraman was arrested while covering ongoing protests Minneapolis Saturday night, in one of several instances of members of the media targeted or injured by law enforcement seeking to quell demonstrations and prevent another night of violent rioting.
Footage aired by the Twin Cities CBS station shows photographer Tom Aviles being taken into custody after he was apparently hit by a police projectile in Minneapolis. The video shows Aviles, who was holding a camera at the time, repeatedly identifying himself as a member of the media before being forced to the ground and taken into custody. His camera was recovered by a producer on the scene.
Shortly after 11 p.m., the station tweeted that Aviles had been released.
State and local officials had vowed to crack down on people who remained on the street after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect, but media are exempt from the order. A number of other credentialed members of the media reported clashes with state patrol troopers and other members of law enforcement. Ryan Raiche, a reporter with KTSP, tweeted that he and colleagues were “tear gassed and pepper sprayed” by police after identifying themselves as reporters.
A Los Angeles Times reporter said in a video posted to Twitter that Minnesota State Patrol fired tear gas at a group of journalists near the Fifth Precinct at “point blank range,” while a national correspondent for CBS said a sound engineer with him was hit with a rubber bullet while reporting 500 feet away from demonstrators, with their credentials displayed.
Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell called the incidents “regrettable” at a late Saturday news conference, but said the dynamics of the evening, including tactics used by agitators and widespread use of masks by journalists, law enforcement and rioters, presented challenges for authorities. He said the expectation is still that reporters are permitted to remain out covering the unrest.
“As quickly as we can, we want to get those people released,” he said. “One of the reason they were exempt is because we value and know the importance from a transparency standpoint.”
Two Star Tribune reporters were struck by projectiles on Saturday. In one incident Saturday night, a projectile pierced the passenger side of the reporter’s car window near Lake Street and Chicago Avenue S., shattering the glass, which cut his face and arm.
Another reporter, whose car tires were slashed, was walking home and he was forced to the ground at gunpoint for 20 minutes as a guard convoy came through.
State officials faced criticism treatment of media covering the situation on Friday, after a CNN reporter was arrested by state troopers on live television while reporting on the aftermath of a violent night of demonstrations. The reporter, Omar Jimenez, was released after Gov. Tim Walz intervened. The governor later apologized and said the arrest should never have happened.