The National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute condemn the early morning arrests of CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his production team, who were taken into custody just after 5 a.m. local time, while live on the air. They were released more than an hour later, after Gov. Tim Walz apologized to CNN President Jeff Zucker for the actions of law enforcement.
Jimenez could be heard on camera calmly telling the Minnesota state police, “We can move wherever you’d like, we are live on the air,” and showing them his press credentials. This contradicts the statement by police to the crew that the journalists were arrested for refusing to move.
“Every American should watch this video and put herself/himself in the position of the correspondent,” said National Press Club President Michael Freedman. “It speaks volumes about our rights, our responsibilities, the challenges reporters face in seeking the truth, and why journalism matters.”
“This is the United States, where a free press is enshrined in our Constitution. Journalism is not a crime,” said Angela Greiling Keane, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute. “The CNN team was doing its job, protected by the First Amendment, when it was wrongfully taken into custody.”
In a statement, the cable network said, “A CNN reporter & 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, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately.”
The network reported that CNN correspondent Josh Campell was reporting nearby and was also approached by police, but was allowed to remain.
“I identified myself … they said, ‘OK, you’re permitted to be in the area … I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was,” said Campbell, who is white. Jimenez is black and Latino.
The CNN team was in the area covering unrest precipitated by the death of George Floyd.
The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a nonprofit affiliate of the Club, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.