Minnesota State Patrol releases statement after CNN crew arrested while covering George Floyd protests

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (CNN) — A CNN crew was arrested by police Friday morning while giving a live television report in Minneapolis, where the crew was covering ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd.

The crew, including correspondent Omar Jimenez, were handcuffed and detained as Jimenez gave a live report on a Minneapolis street shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET).

CNN lawyers and executives immediately worked to secure their release. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized for the arrest, saying: “It was totally unacceptable.” 

The crew was released about one hour later.

Minnesota State Patrol said in a statement on Twitter: “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.”

When the arrest happened, police told the crew they were being detained because they were told to move, and didn’t, one member of the CNN crew relayed to the network.

Officers approached the crew as they moved in to arrest a protester behind them.

Jimenez could be seen holding his CNN badge while reporting, identifying himself as a reporter, and telling the officers the crew would move wherever officers needed them to. An officer gripped his arm as Jimenez talked, then put him in handcuffs.

“We can move back to where you like. We are live on the air here. … Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way — wherever you want us (we’ll) get out of your way,” Jimenez said before he was led away.

“We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez and the crew had been reporting from the site — near a city police department precinct that protesters had burned and officers had abandoned overnight. About a block away, a fire was burning at a different, four-story building that had contained restaurants.

Over 100 state police officers in body armor and riot gear had arrived and lined up near the area where the CNN crew was, near the precinct building on East Lake Street.

After the photographer was arrested, his camera was set on the ground and continued to transmit live images.

Cheering protesters torched the police station Thursday that the department was forced to abandon as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the U.S over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.

Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd’s death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. On the video, Floyd can be seen pleading as Officer Derek Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving. The 3rd Precinct covers the portion of south Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz earlier Thursday activated the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request, but it wasn’t immediately clear when and where the Guard was being deployed, and none could be seen during protests in Minneapolis or St. Paul. The Guard tweeted minutes after the precinct burned that it had activated more than 500 soldiers across the metro area.

The Guard said a “key objective” was to make sure fire departments could respond to calls, and said in a follow-up tweet it was “here with the Minneapolis Fire Department” to assist. But no move was made to put out the 3rd Precinct fire. Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said fire crews could not safely respond to fires at the precinct station and some surrounding buildings.

Hundreds of demonstrators returned Thursday to the Minneapolis neighborhood at the center of the violence, where the nighttime scene veered between an angry protest and a street party. At one point, a band playing in a parking lot across from the 3rd Precinct broke into a punk version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Nearby, demonstrators carried clothing mannequins from a looted Target and threw them onto a burning car. Later, a building fire erupted nearby.

But elsewhere in Minneapolis, thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through the streets calling for justice.

Floyd’s death has deeply shaken Minneapolis and sparked protests in cities across the U.S. Local leaders have repeatedly urged demonstrators to avoid violence.

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