As protests against the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Monday continue to build in the city and around the nation, an Afro-Latino CNN reporter who was arrested on live TV early this morning has been released from custody. The arrest took place at 5:09 a.m. local time, as Omar Jimenez reported live with a camera crew just south of downtown. Surrounded by police officers in riot gear, Jimenez identified himself as a reporter, repeating that he would move to wherever police wanted him to move as he was put into handcuffs, according to CNN’s own reporting on the subject.
He was released about an hour later, and by 6:37 a.m. he was back at work, reporting live on his own arrest. Here’s what he had to say, according to our colleagues at The Root:
‘There was a moment, I would say, minutes after it happened that things started to sink in a little bit. The one thing that gave me a little bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV. When you talk within the community about, let’s just say what happened with George Floyd, there’s a discussion that, what’s happening isn’t new, it’s being filmed.
That speaks to the power of having something happen on camera because you can have people speak up for you without you saying anything. That gave me a little bit of comfort knowing [CNN anchors] saw what was happening, I was living what was happening, and the country was seeing what was happening unfold in real time right before their eyes. You don’t have to doubt my story, it’s not filtered in any sort of way, you saw it for your own eyes. That gave me a little bit of comfort, but it was nerve-wracking at certain points.’
The arrest prompted an immediate response from the news channel, which said in a statement, “A CNN reporter and his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves—a clear violation of their First Amendment rights.” Meanwhile, a white CNN reporter named Josh Campbell who was standing nearby says, “I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was,” saying police allowed him to remain in the area after he identified himself.
In a press conference shortly after Jimenez and his team were released, Minnesota governor Tim Walz said, “I take full responsibility,” adding that he had apologized to CNN president Jeff Zucker directly and that “There is absolutely no reason something like this should happen... This is a very public apology to that team.” That’s in marked contrast to a tweet from the Minnesota State Patrol, which claimed that “four people” were released “once they were confirmed to be members of the media,” as if the whole thing hadn’t happened on live TV. That tweet has drawn condemnation from many, including Selma director Ava DuVernay. “That’s not what happened. This is a lie. We all saw it,” she wrote.
Jimenez’s arrest comes on a momentous day in this developing story, as Derek Chauvin, the police officer who allegedly killed Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd gasped and said he could not breathe, has been taken into custody, according to CBS Minnesota. He has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.