CNN Camera Crew Arrest Dystopian, Says PEN America

Press Freedom group PEN America branded the arrests of a CNN news crew covering the violent protests in Minneapolis appalling and something it would expect to see in authoritarian states like Turkey or Egypt and called for more police training.

“With all the perversions of American democracy that we have witnessed, few rival the dystopian spectacle of a U.S. journalist calmly reporting the news and repeatedly offering to reposition his crew at the police’s request, only to be arrested, cuffed, and hauled away alongside his crew," said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.

Reporter Oscar Jimenez and his crew were later released from police custody, according to the network.

The network also reported that Minnesota governor Tim Walz had apologized to CNN president Jeff Zucker for the arrests, saying they were unacceptable.

The arrest happened live on air while Jimenez was himself reporting on an arrest near a police precinct that protesters had burned. Jiminez were asked to move back, and said they would, but they were arrested anyway without explanation as the cameras rolled.

“These arrests took place for no fathomable reason; the video makes plain that the crew was making every effort to accommodate any request by the officers," said Nossel. "For us at PEN America, where we routinely document the arrest and imprisonment of writers and journalists worldwide, the action was eerily familiar, but something we expect to see in authoritarian states: Turkey, Hong Kong, Egypt. To see it in the United States of America is appalling.

“Police departments must urgently implement stringent policies and universal training on the protection of press freedom rights in the context of demonstrations.”

CBS News tweeted its support for CNN following the arrest.


John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.