A CNN reporter and camera crew were arrested live on TV by police in Minneapolis on Friday morning near the scene of Thursday night’s protests.
They were released after more than an hour in custody, after CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker spoke to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who apologized and said the arrests should not have happened, the network reported.
CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez told the network’s anchors after his release that he and his crew had tried to move out of the way of officers prior to the arrests. A protester ran by at that moment and was arrested, and shortly afterward the CNN crew was also taken into custody, Jimenez said.
The network reported that the arresting officers were from the Minnesota State Patrol. The reason for their arrests was not clear.
“There was no animosity there; they weren’t violent with me,” he said of the arresting officers, adding that one officer said, “I’m just following orders.”
In a statement, Minnesota State Patrol said that “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 said the account was untrue, pointing out that the encounter was caught on live TV. “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.
Jimenez and the crew could be seen being taken into custody around 5:15 a.m. local time, although what appeared to be Jimenez’s media credentials were visible on him.
“A CNN reporter & his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves – a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. The authorities in Minnesota, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately,” said a statement from CNN after the arrest.
Some other media organizations condemned the arrests, including MSNBC, which said in a statement that the CNN journalists “were simply doing their jobs in a tough situation on the ground in Minneapolis.”
“This is a time when the work of journalists continues to be necessary to inform and educate the public,” the statement said. NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC.
The arrests came after Minneapolis saw a third night of volatile protests Thursday night over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
The officer did not move for at least eight minutes, at which point paramedics carried Floyd away. He was later pronounced dead.
In one area of the city, protesters focused their attention on the police department’s 3rd Precinct, the base of the four officers who were involved in Monday’s incident and who were fired the next day.
A fire spread to the interior of the station, which police had evacuated. They cleared the building shortly after 10 p.m., when demonstrators forcibly entered and “ignited several fires,” police spokesman John Elder said.
Fires burned on both sides of the police station as demonstrators pushed down temporary fencing and occupied property at the precinct. Officers fired tear gas from the ground and a rooftop. Multiple blazes also burned on nearby blocks.
Meanwhile, businesses across the Twin Cities boarded up their windows and doors, as looters broke into a Target and A T.J. Maxx. The T.J. Maxx was later reported to be on fire.
Gov. Walz signed an executive order Thursday activating the National Guard. A statement from the governor’s office said the order was needed after “extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders.”
Maia Davis is a breaking news editor with NBC News Digital.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
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