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CNN journalists arrested on air while covering protests over George Floyd’s death

Police officers kept watch in a haze of tear gas during a protest Thursday in St. Paul, Minn. Friday marks the third day of ongoing protests after the police killing of George Floyd.Scott Olson/Getty

A CNN reporting crew was arrested on live television Friday morning while covering the aftermath of violent protests over the death of George Floyd.

At about 6 a.m. local time, correspondent Omar Jimenez, who is black, and a CNN crew of three others were on air when Minnesota State Police in heavy gear began detaining them, an incident that was captured on video in its entirety. The crew was later released.

In the CNN video, Jimenez and his crew identify themselves as journalists and offer to move out of the way of police. An officer then tells Jimenez he is under arrest, but does not respond when the reporter asks why. The officer ties Jimenez’s hands behind his back and leads him away.

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A producer is then arrested, followed by the camera man.

CNN president Jeffrey Zucker spoke to Minneapolis Governor Tim Walz, John Berman reported on CNN. The governor apologized for the arrest and said he was working to get the crew released. The crew was released a short time later.

Another CNN reporter covering the protests in the field, who is white, noted the difference between his treatment and that of his colleague.

“My experience has been the opposite of what Omar just experienced there,” Josh Campbell said. “I can tell you I was treated much differently than he was.”

Speaking live on CNN after the incident, Jimenez called it “nerve-wracking at certain points” and said his crew was trying to stay out of the way. He said he was “confused” about why he was arrested.

He said he tried to speak with officers as he was being detained but was told by the officer that he was “just following orders.”

Asked by his colleagues whether he was fearful during the encounter, Jimenez said that he was comforted by the fact that the arrest was being filmed.

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“It did cross my mind what is really happening here, the one thing that gave me a little bit of comfort is that it happened on live TV. That gave me a little bit of comfort knowing that you guys saw what was happening, I was living what was happening, and the country was seeing what was happening unfold in real time," he said.

Jimenez was reporting from the scene of the destruction from protests the night before, and fires continued to burn in the background as Jimenez was arrested. Protesters stormed a police precinct Thursday night, forcing officials inside to flee, before they set it on fire.

Thursday marked the third straight night of protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody. Bystander video of the arrest, in which a white officer is seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he says “I can’t breathe,” led to the firing of the four officers involved and prompted investigations by the FBI and state authorities.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1. Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.