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For several days now, protests have sprouted up all around the country in response to the recent death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. The majority of those protests have been peaceful, but a select few have been rife with violence, looting and property damage, which is no doubt putting the entire active police force on edge. Things took a potentially ugly turn early in the morning, with CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew members getting arrested in middle of an on-air report.
Thankfully, this Friday morning incident between journalist and Omar Jimenez with cops ended with only minor frustrations, and not with another tragedy. According to CNN, Jimenez and crew members Bill Kirkos (producer) and Leonel Mendez (photojournalist) were initially brought into the downtown public safety building. At some point after that, Minnesota's Governor Tim Walz reached out to CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker and offered sincere apologies, as well as the guarantee that he would look into getting the journalists released.
Someone must have answered Tim Walz's calls fairly quickly, too, as Omar Jimenez and his two colleagues were released from the facility around an hour later. Jimenez quickly touched base again with CNN and viewers, saying that he was treated well enough after getting escorted away from the live report he was in the middle of. But there are several questionable inconsistencies at play here.
In the first place, here's the statement put out by the Minneapolis State Police:
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.
CNN quickly called those authorities out for not being entirely honest. The network pointed out that Omar Jimenez and his crew definitely did identify themselves as journalists to the police ahead of the arrest, with the proof of that having aired live on CNN. During the segment, Jimenez could also be heard offering to move and film from whatever placement the police approved of. Yet they all still got arrested, with one crew member allegedly being told they were detained because they didn't move after being told to do so.
CNN (along with many others online) are also questioning why Minneapolis cops specifically targeted Omar Jimenez, who is black and Latino, while not kicking up a fuss with another CNN journalist in the area, Josh Campbell, who is white. According to Campbell, he wasn't standing Jimenez's group at the time he got approached by police, and they breezily allowed him to stay after he showed them his credentials.
Omar Jimenez's arrest is only one of many harrowing incidents that have recently plagued Minneapolis's downtown area. The journalist and his crew were reporting from a site that was near the police dept. building that protesters set fire to earlier in the week, causing officers to abandoned the structure. Also nearby was a burning four-story building that contained several restaurants, and Jimenez reported that police weren't in the area for a time gap overnight, and that the building had been burning without any attempts to slow it down.
Considering CNN was calling Minneapolis' police force out for infringing on its journalists' First Amendment rights, I wouldn't be surprised if the network attempted to get avenge its employees in some way over the arguably unprovoked arrest. This story, along with all of the protests, will likely continue to make big waves in the coming days.
While waiting to hear more from this story, and about the still-developing aftermath from George Floyd's death, check out our 2020 Summer TV Schedule.