This morning, viewers watching CNN for coverage of the ongoing protests in Minneapolis instead witnessed an unbelievable curtailment of press freedom, as an entire film crew was arrested — on air — apparently without even being notified of the cause of their arrest. The video, which was broadcast in real time and remains posted online, plainly shows a team of journalists doing their job and calmly identifying themselves as members of the press before being arrested with no justification.
This incident follows several others over the past few days where journalists have reportedly been tear gassed and even hit with potentially lethal rubber bullets while attempting to inform the public about the unfolding events on the ground.
Freedom of the Press Foundation advocacy director Parker Higgins released the following statement:
The illegal arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his camera crew on live television was a shocking and unconscionable act by the Minnesota State Patrol. Journalists have a clear First Amendment right to cover public events. While the police eventually released these journalists without charges, others have been subjected to tear gas and injured by rubber bullets. Whoever gave the arrest order, as well as any other police officers interfering with journalists’ constitutional rights, should be investigated and disciplined immediately. These authoritarian actions have no place in a democracy.
We’ll have more on these incidents as they unfold. Also make sure to follow our U.S. Press Freedom Tracker project, which comprehensively documents press freedom violations in the United States, including the events currently unfolding in Minnesota.
For further comment:
Freedom of the Press Foundation