CNN Reporter Omar Jimenez Released After He Was Arrested Live on Air amid George Floyd Protests
A CNN reporter was arrested while on the job, documenting the ongoing protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd.
Early Friday morning, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his producer, Bill Kirkos, and photojournalist Leonel Mendez were put into handcuffs and taken into custody on live TV. Minnesota State Police officers approached the journalists during the broadcast when the team identified themselves as reporters and said they'd comply with where the authorities wanted them to relocate.
"We can move back to where you'd like. We can move back to where you'd like here. We are live on the air at the moment," Jimenez told the officers. "... We're getting out of your way. So, just let us know. Wherever you'd want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection. Let us know and we've got you."
In the footage, police did not offer a reason as to why the reporters were taken away in handcuffs one by one.
CNN quickly called for the immediate release of its employees, citing a "clear violation of their First Amendment rights."
Speaking with CNN president Jeff Zucker, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he "deeply apologizes" for the arrests, which he said were "unacceptable."
On Friday morning, the news outlet reported that its crew members were released from police custody at the Hennepin County Public Safety facility in downtown Minneapolis.
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After his release, Jimenez explained the situation and said the officers were "cordial" after the on-camera encounter. When he asked about guidelines that his broadcast team should follow in the upcoming days of reporting, he said the officer told him, "Look, I don't know man, I'm just following orders."
"As far as the people that were leading me away, there was no animosity there, they weren't violent with me," said Jimenez. "We were having a conversation about just how crazy this week has been for every single part of the city."
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Jimenez was on-location covering the ongoing demonstrations in Minneapolis, where protesters are calling for justice in the death of Floyd, 46, who died after being restrained by police on Monday. Four police officers were fired in the case, which was caught on video after it went virual and sparked nationwide outrage.
In the footage, an officer places his knee firmly on the back of Floyd's neck as he lies face down on his stomach, next to a patrol car, as he says he cannot breathe and that "everything hurts."
On Thursday, a day before his on-camera arrest, Jiminez described the scene in the city as "unbelievable" on Twitter.
"Thousands in the streets, a police precinct on fire, fireworks being fired into those flames," he wrote. "All while we wait on whether charges will be filed against the officers involved in the death of George Floyd,"