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CNN Crew Arrested in Minnesota; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 29, 2020 - 06:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: On the left hand side is our live camera that is still on the move, we assume. It is now in police custody after our CNN crew was arrested, inexplicably, for just doing their job.

And, you know, covering protests, obviously, Chief, this is sort of a standard assignment. This is what we do. We know how to do it. We've done it for decades. And journalists know where to stand. As you point out, Omar immediately presented his credentials. That's what we are taught to do. And yet he and his crew have been arrested.

And so there's so many things that are not standard that have happened for the past hours here, Chief. I mean the police precinct was burnt. It was on fire. Police evacuated from that precinct. As Omar was telling us for hours on the ground, they saw no police presence from about 10:00 p.m. till 5:00 a.m. And at 5:00 a.m., he watched a line of state police show up. They dispersed which ever lingering protesters had been hanging around. Omar had described it overnight as mayhem without police. And then they arrested our CNN crew. I mean all of this is just, you know, obviously it demands a lot of answers.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Well, obviously command and control is lacking. I mean it's an issue.

One of the things you talk about is media. You know, where do you want them to be. Where are you going to put them? And usually you're PIO or someone like that is the person who's in charge of that. And as long as they cooperate, which clearly he was cooperating, you just move them along. I don't understand this at all.

Now, last night with the police station burning, I mean that caught people off guard. They did the right thing by getting people out of there so no one would at least be harmed. I don't know why they did not respond last night during the fires. Maybe they didn't have sufficient resources. The fire department will not go to a scene not secured. So that's not surprising at all.

But, obviously, that presents a problem because of the major fire, possibility of it spreading and all that kind of thing.

But what I just saw here now, today, shows me -- or tells me anyway that, you know, there's a lack of command and control at that scene. They better hurry up and get it together because this is not good at all for anybody. And it was totally unnecessary, in my opinion.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let me just bring people up to speed as to what they're seeing.

On the right, live pictures from South Minneapolis where buildings have burned all night, including the police precinct there. On the left-hand side of your screen is a CNN camera, which is still capturing images.

Our CNN team has been taken into custody. Reporter Omar Jimenez arrested live on television, before our eyes. Producer Bill Kirus (ph), our photojournalist Neal Mendez (ph) as well. He had the presence to keep that camera rolling, even after he was taken away. So that's why you are seeing that image on the left-hand side of your screen.

And I do want to note the irony here of all this. Journalists have now been arrested on the streets of Minneapolis before the police officers -- or police officer caught on video with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, who died while in their custody. That is just a statement of fact at this point.

I do want to reassure everyone, the CNN legal department is working with the situation to get our reporting team out of police custody and back on the streets to tell the story of what's happening, which is where they should be. And what is happening, Alisyn, has been an extraordinary night of pain and violence in Minneapolis. And we've also seen examples of it around the country as well.


And Josh Campbell, our correspondent, is one of the people who's been on the ground covering it all.

And, Josh, your perspective is so helpful because of your background in law enforcement. And so all of this was just an incredible night. I mean just tell us what you saw beginning overnight.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, just incredible scenes here. And let me tell you what you're seeing now on my camera is -- very dramatically you saw these police SUVs move in to do what looks like some type of vehicle stop, then you saw the tactical officers coming in behind them, yelling at folks on their loud speaker. It doesn't look like they're arresting anyone there. They're driving people back.

And then over here, closer to the other side, as I pan, you can see that firefighters are battling a blaze. We have National Guard. We've got the police officers that are out here.

But last night, you know, we were here throughout the night, and it was -- it was chaos. You had protesters that were out expressing their anger, their frustration with the killing of a black man here in Minneapolis, George Floyd.

[06:35:03] You also had a segment of the crowd, which didn't appear to represent those who were protesting police activity, that were just committing violence. They were torching the police station, looting some of the buildings nearby, some of the local businesses. And, again, it just appears that they are just different segments that were out here.

And I'm going to move in here too. You can see police have now deployed what looks like tear gas as they have this roving patrol near the police precinct. We're about a block from where Omar was and his crew whenever they were taken into custody by police officers.

Again, just -- you're seeing a show of force that we did not see last night. Police opted to let that building burn. We talked to experts who said the likely reason was they knew that their presence would probably enflame the situation even more, opting to lose a building rather than losing a life. But now we're seeing the police -- state police, local police and the National Guard come out in a show of force that we haven't seen.

And I could tell you, there are a lot fewer people here, bystanders and protesters, than there were last night as well. There were journalists. We saw what happened to them when the police get heavy handed. Our own crew taken into custody.

And you can hear now over the loud speaker, they are warning people. It seems like they're just moving this perimeter back farther and farther, trying to get some order here in this shopping center. You can see all the graffiti and everything. This is a shopping center. This area behind us was set ablaze.

This building here, that you can see as I pan, was once a business and is now left in rubble. Police officers, National Guard, other officials staging here. There had been confrontation with some folks. You can see this gentleman here. He just had a confrontation with the police as he attempted to move past this location. They didn't arrest him. They pushed him back. They told him to move. He continued to move in. They continued to give verbal commands. He finally moved.

But, again, you can see just -- this is part of this presence that continues. They're setting a cordoned back. They're also trying to fight this blaze, John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: Josh, stand by for a minute there, and I really mean it, please tell us if anything happens before you, because you are our presence on the scene right now. You are our eyes and ears. Why? Because our other CNN team, led by reporter Omar Jimenez, has been taken into police custody. The CNN legal team is working to get them released.

I want to bring people up to speed on all of this.

Overnight in Minneapolis, we have seen incredible pain and also remarkable violence. The third police precinct there, burned after protesters took to the streets for a third night demonstrating against the death of George Floyd. They want justice. The four police officers who have lost their jobs over this have not yet been charged with any crime. Prosecutors say they are not ready yet to make charges. After they said that yesterday, there was a new round of demonstrations on the streets. More buildings burned.

I want to bring in CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers and Minnesota State Senator Jeff Hayden.

I know, Senator, that George Floyd was killed just outside your district, but you've been watching what's happening overnight here. And I also know first that you have been in contact, trying to find out what's actually happened the last few minutes.

JEFF HAYDEN (D), MINNESOTA STATE SENATOR: Yes. Well, thank you for having me.

Mr. Floyd was killed in my district. The scene that you see today is just outside of my district.

I have been texting the governor, the mayor. The governor just said that they're trying to get command and control and wasn't aware of your reporter being arrested. So I'm hoping that we can sort it out.

CAMEROTA: And, Senator, do you -- I mean have they given you any insight into why on earth, you know, a team of journalists, a CNN crew, would be arrested? That happened to be one of the calmer moments when state police showed up and Omar was completely by the book, following what journalists do, standing where police had said to stand, why he would be taken into custody?

HAYDEN: Yes, no, I just had a joint text with the governor and the mayor. I haven't hear back from the mayor. The governor said it was (INAUDIBLE) to get control of the situation. So I don't know if he was watching (INAUDIBLE). I told him that the camera was still live (INAUDIBLE) bring his attention to it (INAUDIBLE) watching this morning.

CAMEROTA: Yes. That's what we're seeing on the left-hand side of our screen, everyone, that the strange, sort of abstract image that you're seeing on the left-hand side of your screen is our CNN camera that has been confiscated by police. It's still rolling. And we think that it is now in some sort of vehicle because we can see some movement, though, of course, it's out of focus and looks strange.


On the right side of your screen, you're seeing the aftermath of just what has been a violent night in Minneapolis where buildings were set on fire, including a police precinct. The third police precinct was set on fire. Police had to be evacuated by the mayor. And then, after hours of what our correspondent described as mayhem, the state police and the National Guard showed up. The protesters went home, it appears, for the morning and they were dispersed. And then our own camera crew, led by Omar Jimenez, was arrested.

BERMAN: Bakari Sellers, you've been watching this unfold before our very eyes also. I want to talk about the bigger picture. I just want to point out again, for people who did not see it, that Josh Campbell, our reporter on the ground there who is white, is still working on the scene and has not been taken into custody. Omar Jimenez, who is not, is now in police custody, as is his team. And they were taken into custody and action taken against them, Bakari, before any action taken against the police officers involved with the death of George Floyd. They've lost their jobs. There have been no charges filed. No arrests made on that front.

So, Bakari, as we watch these extraordinary developments this morning live, give me your thoughts.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (via telephone): So I want to just add some context for the people watching. When watching Omar get arrested, my heart began to beat extremely fast because I didn't know how that interaction was going to go. I think that many people of color throughout the country, when they saw Omar interact in a peaceful manner, follow instructions, have a badge saying that he was in the media, still be arrested is a reality for many black people in this country. And the fear that we had, what may happen to him, (INAUDIBLE) the program if there's any way we can let Omar's family know that he is OK and let the rest of the country know that he is OK in police custody, that is a huge fear for us all.

And, I mean, to add more context, the fact that it remains, you are (INAUDIBLE) accurate, you are right, I mean they've arrested a CNN reporter, a person of color, before they've arrested (INAUDIBLE) George Floyd. And to do that on camera, right, actually arrest a reporter on camera, then many of the things that we've been telling you about, the interactions between people of color and law enforcement are not that far -- not that far out of the box. I mean I just think that -- I don't know what the hell is going on in Minneapolis right now.

And someone -- someone in some leadership authority needs to get control of law enforcement in that city. There are people who are hurting in that city and this just goes -- when you go back home and you see -- and the world finds out that the Minneapolis law enforcement, I know there's a difference between state police and city police, et cetera. However, law enforcement in Minneapolis had the audacity and the utter gal on national TV to arrest a reporter of color while doing his job and following command. But the law enforcement officer who put his knee in the back of the neck of a man and choked him for eight minutes is still free to walk around, that is what we're talking about (INAUDIBLE) justice system in America looking like.

And, you know, we haven't yet -- we haven't even started talking about the tweets of the president of the United States adding just that much fire to the scenario. And so this is what -- this is what Trump's America looks like now. And this is the problem and this is the fierce sense of urgency that many people of color have.

And what you're seeing, the protest (INAUDIBLE) that that is the pain that many people of color are seeing. And that pain is demonstrated by the inequities of justice that we saw this morning on TV. I mean that -- that was -- I've never seen anything like it. I have -- I've only been on this planet 35 years, but I haven't seen anything like that. But that is how we see that justice is handed out in this country.

CAMEROTA: I wonder if we can recap for our viewers the moment that the Minnesota -- the Minneapolis State Police surrounded Omar, because I think that it's really instructive.

Let me know, control room, if we have it, because, Bakari, as you point out, a lot of our hearts were beating, were racing during that moment because --


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've got one person being arrested here.


CAMEROTA: OK. So here it is. They're -- they're walking up to him, as he's reporting, and listen to what happens.


JIMENEZ: They -- they had us here. They had us here. We're speaking with state patrol right now. Give us a second, guys.

We can move back to where you'd like. We can move back to where you'd like here.


We are live on the air at the moment.

This is the four of us. We are one team. Just put us -- put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way. So, just let us know.

Wherever you'd want us, we will -- we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection. So, just let us know and we got you.

And this is the scene here playing out in Minneapolis. This is part of the advanced police presence that we saw come over the course of -- of really minutes when the local police showed up at the fire department -- or with the fire department, I should say, on the building that we showed you that was burning.

This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street saying and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away.

I'm sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest.

JIMENEZ: OK. Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. JIMENEZ: Why am -- why am I under arrest, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers, (INAUDIBLE) with CNN, and he's on the air right now.


JIMENEZ: Well, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We told you before that we are with CNN.

CAMEROTA: If you're just tuning in, you are watching our correspondent --



So, Bakari, I just wanted to recap that because it is -- it's a -- it's such a strange moment. I mean you hear Omar saying we'll do -- I'll go wherever you want. We will -- you tell -- you show us where you want us. We will go there. We are reporting. Here are my credentials. We are live right now, officers, on CNN, and they don't give him a reason of why he's being arrested.

And, I mean, to your point, it is a heart-pounding moment for anybody who's watching it. And an inexplicable one.

SELLERS: Well, it's inexplicable, I think, until you -- you realize that they just killed a black man on the street not long ago. And, you know, the -- and I don't want to say that it's a lie, but it's a lie. You know, the law enforcement, from what we've heard from producers, was saying that, you know, one of the reasons they were arrested is because they weren't complying and they didn't move and they were in the wrong spot. I mean, and we can see it with our own eyes. It's just if -- and I don't -- I completely don't understand what elected officials and leadership is Minneapolis are doing. Yes, we have people in pain. Yes, we have people who are lashing out. That's one thing. But the ineptitude, not just from the prosecutor's office yesterday, not just from the U.S. attorney yesterday, but the leadership of the state patrol today.

I mean, and you send a message saying that this man didn't comply. And at CNN, 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 happened.

And not only that, but people are going to tell me they -- they -- there is a large segment of the population that has this theory about respectability politics. And they're going to tell me that all you have to do is be a professional, all you have to do is comply, all you have to do is use your nice inside voice and the police will leave you alone. We saw a reporter who is educated, who is brown, who is doing his job better than anybody in the country, who is in harm's way, letting the American people see what's going on, on the ground. He complied. He said he would move. And do you know his family's heart is beating right now because he is locked up in prison and killers are still roaming the streets free? You almost have to laugh not to just be furious because this is America in 2020. And I hate to be cheesy, but the revolution literally is being televised.

BERMAN: On the left-hand side of your screen is the camera that Omar Jimenez and his team were using. It is still taking pictures. We think it may be in the trunk or the back of a police vehicle right now capturing those images.

The CNN legal team is now in contact, working to find out the situation, the current situation regarding Omar and his team. We will bring you updates as soon as we get that.

And on the right-hand side of your screen is our live camera from our one reporter who's left there, Josh Campbell, who, as Bakari notes, is white.

All right, I just want to -- before I go to you, Josh, let me just read the official CNN statement on what just happened.

A CNN reporter and his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves.


A clear violation of their First Amendment rights. The authorities in Minnesota, including the governor, must release the three CNN employees immediately.

You all saw it, if you were watching. It's on tape at this point. People can go look at it.

Josh, we're lucky to still have you there, able to report on the scene.

So if you will, let's take a step back and tell people where we are this morning as the sun comes up in Minneapolis.

CAMPBELL: John, it is complete utter destruction here in this area near Precinct Three, which is near obviously where George Floyd was killed. We saw a number of protesters out here. I was here with our colleague, Sara Sidner, throughout the night. There were thousands of people that were out protesting. And this is the aftermath. You're seeing a lot of these local businesses have been tagged. There are fire that's been set. The fire department continues to battle one blaze that continues to burn. Businesses here burnt to almost rubble. And this, again, occurred last night during this protest.

The police precinct itself was set ablaze. Officers opting to let that burn rather than move in with any kind of show of force.

Now, however, today, it's a different story. We're seeing a larger police presence. We're seeing the National Guard. I'm going to pan here so you can get a full view of just the number of different agencies, the number of personnel that we're seeing here in this location. They're pushing people back. We saw riot police moving in with their riot gear. We've heard over the loud speaker a number of times the state police announcing that congregating in this area is now unlawful and they are enforcing it. They're setting up a cordon around this area, pushing people back farther and farther.

Earlier, when you first came to me, you saw a number of police vehicles leaving. There's some type of commotion that's taking place about half a mile from where we are, up the street. You saw a number of the riot police rush to their vehicles and then roll out quickly.

So as they push protesters back from this location, that doesn't mean that people won't be moving elsewhere and trying to possibly, potentially cause some type of damage. We're seeing police fan out.

But, again, right in front of us, a blaze continues in this building. As I pan up, you can see firefighters continue on this scene. A very different story today as far as police presence than we saw last night, John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Minnesota State Senator Jeff Hayden is still with us.

And, Senator, I know that you have been in touch with some of the authorities to try to figure out what just happened and why it just happened. That -- was that Minnesota State Police that took our crew into custody? They were wearing obviously body armor that said "state patrol." Do you have any more answers yet?

HAYDEN: Yes, I'm literally getting a text from the governor, who said that he's trying to find (INAUDIBLE) and he was working with our department of (INAUDIBLE) John Arrington (ph) to get the release (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: So, I'm sorry, you broke up a little bit there, Senator. You're saying that the governor is working to get the release?

HAYDEN: (INAUDIBLE). So he's working with our commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to work out and release your reporter. I was just getting that text. (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: And was it state police who arrested our crew?

HAYDEN: That's -- that's what it looked like to me. Like, it looked like it was the state police or highway patrol.

CAMEROTA: We want to reassure our viewers that CNN legal -- our legal department is in touch with the authorities in Minneapolis and they are work to secure the release as well of Omar Jimenez and his crew because, as Bakari points out, that was a heart pumping moment for everyone to watch. I mean not only their families, but all of our viewers because it just -- we couldn't understand why Omar, who was doing his job by the book, presenting his credentials, reporting in the location where he was told to stand, was suddenly being taken away in handcuffs.

So, obviously, we will have all of the developments on this and everything that's happened in this very dramatic night in Minneapolis. You can still see the fire crews putting out some burning buildings. The third police precinct burned overnight in Minneapolis. Police from that precinct had to be evacuated for their safety.

Omar Jimenez, before he was arrested, John, described it as mayhem. So, obviously, this is an unfolding situation here in Minneapolis that we've been uncovering.

BERMAN: Indeed an unfolding situation.

Again, the latest development, our reporter, Omar Jimenez, who identifies as black and Hispanic, has been taken into police custody.


We are working to get him released right now. This follows a night of protests and demonstrations in that city, including the burning of the third police precinct there, as people there ask for answers and ask for action. The officers involved in the death of George Floyd have not been charged, have not been arrested yet.

CNN's special live coverage of the situation continues right after this.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And we are following breaking news. And an incredible turn of events in Minneapolis. You're looking at live pictures right now from the streets of Minneapolis. You can see hundreds of state patrol officers, also National Guard troops, they are moving in to dispense crowds. They have gathered around burning buildings down the street from a police precinct that was set on fire overnight.


The protests are over the death of George Floyd.