Minnesota state police arrested a CNN crew as it covered protests early Friday morning, inadvertently providing yet another excellent example of why police racism might come under protest. The incident was broadcast live, so viewers got to see CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez repeatedly telling officers “We can move back to where you’d like” and “Put us back where you want us, we are getting out of your way” and “We were getting out of your way as you were advancing through the intersection” immediately before his arrest. The producer and cameraman with Jimenez were also arrested.
Two things jump out here. First and foremost, Jimenez is Black and Latino. Another CNN reporter, Josh Campbell, who is white, was working just blocks away, and said his “experience has been the opposite” and “I was treated much differently”—police approached him but were courteous, told him where he could stand, and were polite when asking him to move.
Second, the police cannot credibly claim they mistook Jimenez and his crew for protesters because there are no protesters in the video as they arrested him. They had just finished arresting a lone protester, but at the time of the CNN crew’s arrest, the video is literally of Jimenez and two giant lines of police in tactical gear. This was not a heat of the moment thing.
Nonetheless, that’s what the police are claiming, among other lies: “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.”
Once they were confirmed to be members of the media? Jimenez showed a CNN credential and clearly and repeatedly identified himself and his crew. And unless the Minneapolis protesters are pioneering some new protest tactics, the behavior and equipment of a CNN crew doing a live broadcast are … different. Protest videos are usually shot on cell phones, not CNN-quality cameras.
CNN analyst and former police chief Charles Ramsey said the arrests “did not make any sense” and “The state police are going to have a lot to answer for with this arrest here,” and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized. But it makes perfect sense, unfortunately, and the contrast with the treatment of a white reporter in the same area throws a light on the racism involved.
Then again, Minneapolis police killed a Black man on camera. Why wouldn’t the protests over that lead to the arrest of another one for no reason just because he happened to be a credentialed member of the press being broadcast live on a national network?
— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2020