A CNN TV reporter covering rioting in Minneapolis following the death of a black man at the hands of police officers was arrested live on the air.
Correspondent Omar Jimenez, who is also black, could be heard talking to Minnesota state police officers, telling them they were live on TV and that he was happy for his crew to be moved, before his sudden arrest.
“Just put us back where you want us, we were getting out of your way… wherever you want us we will go,” he can be heard telling police, who were dressed in riot gear after dispersing protesters.
As the camera keeps rolling he is then seen being handcuffed by a police officer and led away without explanation. His crew, including two production staff and security, is then also arrested.
— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2020
Jimenez was covering unrest in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, 46, who later died.
The incident has reignited racial tensions in the US. A police station was set on fire in the third night of rioting in the city.
“I have never seen anything like this,” a CNN presenter can be heard saying while watching the arrest of his colleague live on air.
CNN immediately called for the authorities to release the journalists, saying they had been arrested “for doing their jobs” in a “clear violation” of their First Amendment rights.
Jimenez was released from custody an hour later and was back on the air. He said his crew had tried to get out of the way of advancing officers.
“There was no animosity, they weren’t violent with me,” he said of his treatment at the hands of police. “I’m just following orders,” one told him.
In a statement released on Twitter, Minnesota State Patrol said: “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.”
But CNN has said this account is “not accurate”. “Our CNN crew identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists,” the network said. It also thanked Minnesota Governor Tim Walz for aiding in the release of its reporters.