Early Friday morning, a Black CNN reporter was shockingly arrested on-air while covering the Minneapolis protests. Now, after being released he his speaking out.
According to CNN, at 5:09 a.m. local time, Omar Jimenez was reporting live on an arrest happening near a city police department precinct that protestors had burned and cops had abandoned overnight. Another fire was burning at a different, four-story building that housed restaurants about a block away. Jimenez was positioned in front of a long line of cops in riot gear.
Not too long after Jimenez’s crew captured the arrest on camera, cops approached Jimenez and his crew, requesting they move. Jimenez then identified himself and his crew with his CNN identification card and was heard telling the officers, “This is the four of us. We are one team. Just put us back where you want us. We’re getting out of your way. So, just let us know.”
Despite all this, two cops in riot gear proceeded to tell Jimenez “you are under arrest.” When Jimenez asked why he was under arrest, the cops continued to handcuff him and he was led away as the camera kept rolling. The other crew members were also arrested, including CNN photojournalist Leonel Mendez, and Jimenez’s producer Bill Kirkos. Not too long after this, the camera was taken away while still rolling.
Jimenez was eventually released along with his crew and by 6:37 a.m. they were back on the air to report on the incident. Jimenez said that despite the ludicrous incident, he was happy people got to witness what was happening.
“That gave me a little bit of comfort knowing that you guys saw what was happening,” he said. “I was living what was happening and the country was seeing what was happening unfold in real-time before their eyes. As we were walking away, and you were taking in the entire neighborhood that had been decimated from the passion of the protesters and unfortunately some of the rioting and looting that we had seen, it did cross my mind that, what is really happening here?”
CNN blasted the arrest of Jimenez and his crew as a “violation of their First Amendment rights.”
When CNN president Jeff Zucker talked with the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, on Friday morning, Walz said he “deeply apologizes” for what occurred and he said he was making moves to have the CNN team released immediately.
Jimenez’s career in journalism started about eight years ago. He worked in Baltimore at WBAL-TV before joining CNN in 2017. While in Maryland, he covered the trials of the cops charged with the death of Freddie Gray. He was also a major part of an award-winning special on opioids and he published articles on opioid influence in the state and the fight against child sex trafficking.
Jimenez graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was also apart of the varsity men’s basketball team. He got his start interning at CNN while in school.
In an April Instagram post, CNN anchor Don Lemon said, “Summer of 13 @omarcnn was an intern. Asked me to help him make his demo tape. 7 years later he’s a talented @cnn correspondent. Always help. Always follow your dreams. He saved this and showed it to me tonight. So proud!!!”
Protests have been occurring across the country after George Floyd was killed following an arrest involving the Minneapolis police. Officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video with his knee pinned to Floyd’s neck despite various cries from Floyd saying he couldn’t breathe. The four officers in the incident have since been fired and their are calls that they be charged with murder.