Protests in Minneapolis escalated for the third night in a row on Thursday, in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of local police. CNN viewers got a live look at the racist policing that sparked the unrest first place, as black and latino anchor Omar Jimenez was reporting from the street in Minneapolis early Friday morning when a group of police in riot gear surrounded him and his team. The police arrested all four of them with no explanation. The camera was rolling the entire time.
In the video, Jimenez told the officers who he was, that he and the crew were with CNN, and multiple times asked what the officers wanted them to do. “We are live on the air at the moment. This is the four of us, we are one team. Just put us back where you want us, just let us know. Wherever you want us, just let us know,” he told them. As he spoke, he can be seen clearly holding his CNN press credentials up for the police to see.
None of the officers responded, or even acknowledged that they were being spoken to. Then, instead of telling Jimenez and his crew where to move—or even to move—two officers handcuffed him and told him he was under arrest. Jimenez asked, “Do you mind telling me why I’m under arrest, sir?” and again got no response from the officers. They restrained him and led him away.
Minnesota State police issued a statement in an attempt to clear things up: “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 police didn’t explain how Jimenez and his crew satisfactorily “confirmed to be members of the media” when a cameraman, visible press credentials, and Jimenez telling them point blank weren’t sufficient in the first place.
White CNN reporter Josh Campbell had no such trouble, despite having the same credentials as Jimenez and standing not far from where Jimenez was arrested. Campbell told CNN, “My experience has been the opposite of what Omar just experienced there. I was talking to police there and I identified myself, I told them who I was with, they said, ‘Okay, you’re permitted to be in this area.’ A vehicle came by, they asked me to step outside the street, which I did. I asked them if I could move back in, they said, ‘Yeah, you’re good to go.'”
Shortly before 10 AM on Friday, Jimenez was released and reporting again. On Twitter he shared an image of himself standing in front of a camera, captioned, “And we’re back.”
Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison said on Friday he expects charges to be filed soon against Derek Chauvin, the white officer who used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground by the neck. Ellison’s prediction directly contradicts a statement from Mike Freeman—the Hennepin County Attorney whose jurisdiction is Minneapolis—who told reporters Thursday that “there’s other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.” Chauvin has been fired but remains free.