A tweet from the Minneapolis State Patrol on the early morning arrests of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew has drawn sharp criticism for its inaccuracy.
Jimenez and his camera crew were arrested during a live CNN broadcast early Friday while covering the Minneapolis protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd. The entire incident unfolded live on CNN’s New Day. Jimenez could be seen identifying himself as a reporter while holding his CNN badge and telling State Patrol officers his crew would move wherever police needed them to. Jimenez was placed in handcuffs and walked away by the officer. He was then followed by the rest of the camera crew, who also were placed in handcuffs and taken away. They were later released after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz intervened.
In their response to the incident, the Minneapolis State Patrol tweeted: “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.”
Director Ava DuVernay was among the first to blast the response on Twitter. “That’s not what happened. This is a lie. We all saw it,” DuVernay wrote. “This spin is erroneous and disingenuous. You do your organization a disservice by even trying this nonsense. Stop tweeting and learn how to do your jobs properly. Start with reading the constitution.”
CNN quickly fired back, tweeting “This is not accurate – our CNN crew identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists. We thank Minnesota @GovTimWalz for his swift action this morning to aid in the release of our crew,” the official CNN communications account responded.
Westworld star Jeffrey Wright retweeted the Minneapolis State Patrol response, writing “Y’all are aware those cameras & mics record things, yeah?”
ABC News’ Clayton Sandell responded, “This is an absolutely ridiculous explanation. These officers need a little remedial training in document known as the United States Constitution.”
The Freedom of The Press also fired back, writing “Watch the whole video. CNN reporter and camera crew are arrested live on national TV, while doing nothing wrong, being respectful, and asking where they should go. This is after two days of other reporters getting tear gassed and hit by rubber bullets coming from the police.”
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, made the following statement:
“We strongly condemn the Minnesota State Patrol’s arrest of a CNN news crew covering the protests in Minneapolis, who responded professionally and appropriately to the situation. The First Amendment protects newsgathering, and prohibits the government from using police power as a pretext for interfering with press freedoms. Arresting journalists to prevent reporting on a public demonstration is not acceptable.
“News coverage of protests like the one in Minneapolis is essential to informing the public and understanding the concerns of our communities. While we are relieved that the news crew was ultimately released, we expect the Minnesota State Patrol to provide a full explanation as to why these reporters, who identified themselves as journalists, were taken into custody.”
Fox News Channel released a statement denouncing the arrests: “FOX News Channel has always supported the First Amendment and this instance is no different. We denounce the detainment of the CNN crew and stand with them in protecting the right to report without fear or favor.”
CBS News also reacted to the arrests. “@CBSNews stands in support of all journalists – now more than ever our work is vital to the country. No journalist should be detained just for doing their job.”
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