MINNEAPOLIS (1010 WINS) – A CNN crew was arrested live on air as they covered the unrest in Minneapolis on Friday morning.
Correspondent Omar Jimenez was among those arrested by Minnesota State Patrol shortly after 5 a.m. local time (6 a.m. ET).
Jimenez was giving a report on CNN’s “New Day” when he was handcuffed and led away by police, along with a producer and photojournalist.
According to CNN, police told the crew they were being detained because “they were told to move and didn’t.”
"Why am I under arrest, sir?" Jimenez says on air as a line of police stand behind him next to a destroyed building.
"You are arresting him live on CNN. We told you before that we are with CNN," a man can be heard saying off camera as Jimenez is placed in handcuffs.
"That is an American television reporter, Omar Jimenez, being led away by police officers," an anchor says as Jimenez is led away.
CNN released a statement about the arrests: “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. The authorities in Minnesota, including the Governor, must release the three CNN employees immediately.”
CNN's Josh Campell, who is white, said he was also at the scene but was treated “much differently” than Jimenez was.
“I identified myself ... they said, 'OK, you're permitted to be in the area,'” Campell said.
Jimenez talked about his arrest after the crew was released.
"Everyone to their credit was pretty cordial after that happened,” Jimenez said. “I was actually talking to the officer that was leading me away. I was like, ‘Hey man, we're going to be out here for the next few days, what is the guidance for where should we be?’”
"He said, ‘Look I don’t know man, I’m just following orders,’" Jimenez said.
He said he and the officer talked about "just how crazy this week has been for every part of the city."
The arrests came amid growing unrest in Minneapolis this week.
Cheering protesters torched a city police station that the department abandoned as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the U.S over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.
A police spokesman confirmed late Thursday that staff had evacuated the 3rd Precinct station, the focus of many of the protests, “in the interest of the safety of our personnel" shortly after 10 p.m. Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set.
Protesters could be seen setting fire to a Minneapolis Police Department jacket.
Late Thursday, President Donald Trump blasted the “total lack of leadership” in Minneapolis. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he said on Twitter. Trump, who called protesters in Minneapolis “thugs,” drew another warning from Twitter for his rhetoric, saying it violated the platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.”
A visibly tired and frustrated Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made his first public appearance of the night at City Hall near 2 a.m. Friday and took responsibility for evacuating the precinct, saying it had become too dangerous for officers there. As Frey continued, a reporter cut across loudly with a question: “What's the plan here?”
“With regard to?” Frey responded. Then he added: “There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that ... What we have seen over the past several hours and past couple of nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable.”
He defended the city's lack of engagement with looters — only a handful of arrests across the first two nights of violence — and said, “We are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep the peace.” He said National Guard members were being stationed in locations to help stem looting, including banks, grocery stores and pharmacies.
Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd's death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. On the video, Floyd can be seen pleading as Officer Derek Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving. The 3rd Precinct covers the portion of south Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested.
Walz earlier Thursday activated the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request. The Guard tweeted minutes after the precinct burned that it had activated more than 500 soldiers across the metro area. A couple dozen Guard members, armed with assault-style rifles, blocked a street Friday morning near a Target store that has sustained heavy damage by looters.
The Guard said a “key objective” was to make sure fire departments could respond to calls, and said in a follow-up tweet it was “here with the Minneapolis Fire Department” to assist. But no move was made to put out the 3rd Precinct fire. Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said fire crews could not safely respond to fires at the precinct station and some surrounding buildings.
Earlier Thursday, dozens of businesses across the Twin Cities boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting, with Minneapolis-based Target announcing it was temporarily closing two dozen area stores. Minneapolis shut down nearly its entire light-rail system and all bus service through Sunday out of safety concerns.
In St. Paul, clouds of smoke hung in the air as police armed with batons and wearing gas masks and body armor kept a watchful eye on protesters along one of the city’s main commercial corridors, where firefighters also sprayed water onto a series of small fires. At one point, officers stood in line in front of a Target, trying to keep out looters, who were also smashing windows of other businesses.