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Black CNN reporter released after arrest while covering Minnesota riots

Police in Minnesota arrested a black CNN reporter reporting live on television early on Friday morning while covering the Minneapolis protests over the death of George Floyd, and led him and three crew members away in handcuffs, in what has been criticised as a racist incident.

Black reporter Omar Jimenez had just shown a protester being arrested when about half a dozen white police officers from the Minnesota state patrol surrounded him, without giving a reason.

“We can move back to where you like,” he told the officers wearing gas masks and face shields, before explaining live on air that he and his crew were members of the press. “We’re getting out of your way.”

“This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, seeing and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away,” Jimenez said before being told he was under arrest and handcuffed by two officers. “Why am I under arrest, sir?”

Jimenez and the crew were later released.

Jimenez went back on the air and tweeted drily, in familiar TV news parlance: “And we’re back.”

CNN reported that Minnesota’s governor, Tim Waltz, had apologised to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, for the incident. Waltz said Jimenez “clearly had the right to be there” and he was deeply sorry, CNN reported.

In contrast, another of CNN’s correspondents, Josh Campbell, who is white, was reporting about a block away from Jimenez. He said police were “polite” when they approached him to ask him which outlet he was with, and they told him: “OK, you’re good.”

Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council vice-president, told CNN in an interview that the incident was yet another example of systemic racism. On Thursday, she had called for local and state officials to declare racism in Minnesota a public health emergency.

“Until we deal with outright racism head-on, it’s going to continue,” she said.

Speaking on CNN, attorney Bakari Sellers said he had been scared for Jimenez. ]

“We have a white reporter on the ground, and we have a brown reporter on the ground. They are a block apart. The brown reporter is arrested, and the white reporter is telling us what is happening.”

Waltz had declared a state of emergency and ordered the national guard activated on Thursday. Later in the evening, Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that looters would be shot. Twitter accused him of breaking its rules by “glorifying violence”.

 

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