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A CNN correspondent and his entire crew have been arrested live on air while covering the ongoing protests in Minneapolis over the killing of George Floyd by police officers.
On Monday, May 25, a white police officer knelt on the unarmed man’s neck during an arrest until he lost consciousness. Despite repeatedly telling officers he couldn’t breathe, Floyd, a black man, was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Protests have since broken out across the city, with hundreds demanding that the four officers involved in Floyd’s death – who have since been fired but not arrested – are brought to justice for their actions.
CNN’s Omar Jimenez was reporting at the scene this morning, May 29, when riot police detained him and led him away in handcuffs. The reporter can be heard on the live broadcast asking police why he was being arrested, but receiving no response.
Footage at the scene shows Jimenez surrounded by a number of riot police, identifying himself as a reporter, while telling officers the crew would move wherever officers needed them to. ‘We can move back to where you’d like,’ he told them.
Speaking to the officers in a cooperative and non-confrontational manner, Jimenez continued:
We are live on the air at the moment, this is the four of us, we are one team. Just put us back where you want us, we are getting out of your way. Just let us know.
Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection. Just let us know, and we’ve got you.
Despite his reassurances, Jimenez was arrested and led away moments before the crew, which included producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez, were also detained.
After the CNN photojournalist was arrested, his camera was set on the ground and continued to transmit live images to the audience, while the show’s anchor narrated what was happening.
‘I have never seen anything like this,’ the anchor said. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this. The camera is being walked away now… This is the police carrying our camera right now, frankly not aware that it’s still rolling.’
CNN confirmed the incident and called for the immediate release of its employees, describing their arrests as a ‘clear violation of their First Amendment rights’.
The crew has since been released from police custody after state Governor Tim Walz intervened directly, apologising to CNN president Jeff Zucker and saying what happened was ‘totally unacceptable and inadvertent’, Deadline reports.
After being released, Jimenez immediately took to the air again to update on his situation, saying he’d been treated cordially after he’d been led away. ‘We’re doing OK, now. There were a few uneasy moments there,’ he said.
CNN‘s Josh Campell, who also was in the area but wasn’t standing with the on-air crew, said he was approached by police but was allowed to stay in the area. ‘I identified myself… they said, “OK, you’re permitted to be in the area”,’ said Campbell, who is white.
‘I was treated much differently than [Jimenez] was,’ he explained. Jimenez is black and Latino.
Jimenez and the crew had been reporting near a city police department precinct that had been burned down during the protests. More than 100 state police officers arrived shortly before 5.00am, wearing full body armour and riot gear, and lined up in the area near to where the CNN crew was standing.
Protesters have taken over the city in the days following George Floyd’s death, after footage surfaced showing a defenceless Floyd lying face-down on the ground, an officer’s knee pressed forcefully into his neck.
Floyd could be heard shouting, ‘I cannot breathe’ and ‘Don’t kill me’, as onlookers begged the officer to stop. He didn’t, and Floyd became motionless, with witnesses pleading with police to check his pulse. Again, they didn’t, and Floyd was later pronounced dead.
All four officers involved in Floyd’s death – Derek Chauvin, the man who knelt on Floyd’s neck, and three others – have since been fired and an investigation opened by the FBI, but none have been arrested.
Clearly, this isn’t enough, and the protests on the streets of Minneapolis demonstrate this.
Rest in peace, George.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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