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Arrest of CNN journalists was illegal, says NPPA

Journalism groups condemned the Friday morning arrest of a CNN crew by Minnesota State Patrol, after a night of uprisings over the killing of a George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer, who has since been charged with murder and manslaughter in the death

The CNN team was apprehended live on camera as the reporter, Omar Jimenez, repeatedly asked on air where officers wanted the crew to move. The journalists were released about an hour later.

Among those denouncing the arrests were the National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The National Press Photographers Association called the police actions “not only troubling but illegal.” Meanwhile, colleagues praised Jimenez for his professionalism, and CNN took note that a white CNN reporter nearby was treated differently by authorities.

Gov. Tim Walz took responsibility for the arrest and apologized. In a tweet, CNN said it accepted the apology, adding: “As journalists, the First Amendment gives us not only the right but also the responsibility to shine light in darkness and hold those in power to account.”

Poynter on Friday published “23 guidelines for journalists to safely cover protests this weekend.”

And NPPA, which has issued advice on high-conflict news coverage and tips for journalists on the street, cited Oakland (Calif.) Police Department guidelines as a model for coverage of demonstrations:

  • The media has a right to cover protests from any location the public is normally allowed.
  • Leave the media alone and focus on protesters and those committing criminal acts.
  • When in doubt, “Let the media film.”