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Third Night Of Violent Protests And Fires In Minneapolis, Minnesota State Patrol Arrests CNN Crew. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Burning buildings down the street from a police precinct that was set on fire overnight.
The protests are over the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody, put a police officer's knee on his neck while he was pleading that he could not breathe. There had been no charges filed against those officers.
State prosecutors announced yesterday they have yet to make those charges that may have led to the new round of demonstrations overnight.
Within the last hour, our CNN Correspondent, Omar Jimenez, was taken into custody on live television while he was reporting from the scene along with his producer and camera crew. Here is how it played out live on New Day.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have 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 go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing to 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 really minutes when the local police showed up at the fire -- or with the fire department, I should say, on that building we showed you that was burning. This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, saying and scattering the protesters to that point for people to clear the area. And so -- we walked away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest.
JIMENEZ: Okay. Would you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir? Why am I under arrest, sir?
You are arresting me live on CNN. We told you before that we are with CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anyone tell me where he's being taken?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Well, that was the incredible scene that we watched play out here live on the air of our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, being taken into custody. The police later told our producer that our entire team was arrested for not following orders to clear the street.
We'll read you the statement from CNN in just the past hour. 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.
We are -- obviously, our legal team is in touch with the governor's office, as well as all the authorities in Minneapolis. And we will keep you apprised of the situation every step of the way.
CNN's Josh Campbell is standing by. He was just a couple of blocks away from that moment where our team was taken into custody. He has been reporting overnight. So, Josh, tell us everything that you've seen.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Guys, I can tell you. I just -- I mean, it's unbelievable what's happening here. I was just approached by the police here near the police station. One came up to me and asked who I was. I identified myself as a journalist. They asked what station. I told them CNN. They said, okay, you're good. And they're pushing everyone else back, again, a much different situation than just occurred with our colleague, Omar Jimenez.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, Josh, it's just impossible not to note the difference. You are a white guy. Omar Jimenez identifies as black and Latino. And since the police didn't give us much of an explanation for what they were doing against the backdrop of these fires burning and George Floyd's death, it's just impossible not to note the difference here.
CAMPBELL: Yes, you're absolutely right. And, you know, we're here identifying ourselves to the police, we're covering the story. They know that we're here. We've been communicating with them, we've been talking with them. We've been here throughout the night. They know that we're here.
Obviously, if there's a situation where someone is in imminent danger and the police need to move people back for their own safety, that's one thing. That's not what we saw. We saw Omar very politely identify himself as a member of the press and we saw what transpired.
I can tell you, my live shot is down right now. I think you're seeing other pictures of this location as we try to move in and around this area. There is just -- the place is scattered with debris right now. This is, I would call, a suburban shopping center where you have the big box stores right next to Precinct 3, a police station which is now just left in rubble. I'm standing outside. We'll get our live shot up in a second. But you saw the images overnight of this place set ablaze by protesters who were here obviously expressing their anger and outrage at the death of George Floyd.
Now, there were some people here that were protesting, holding up signs. Others took that to a different level and tried to torch this building. We're seeing the aftermath today. Police officers now moving in with greater force than we saw last night, the National Guard is also here trying to cordon off this area for a number of announcements on loud speakers telling people to disperse. We saw tear gas deployed earlier.
I think this goes to show that we can't lose sight of why this is happening here. This all goes back to that dramatic video that we saw from cell phone of a police officer with his knee on the neck of a black man on the ground who later died. A lot of unanswered questions from police, a lot of unanswered questions from prosecutors about what is going to happen there with that investigation, but I think that shows that this part of city at least right now is on fire, both physically, and they are enraged.
And just as quickly as something can start, it takes a lot longer to put that fire out. I think we're seeing that now. That dramatic video set all of this in motion and we're now seeing that it's taken people here time, both the authorities trying to calm the public and members of the public who want their frustration to be heard.
BERMAN: All right, Josh. Stand by, if you will. Please keep us posted as the developments you are seeing. You are our only eyes right now on the scene as Omar Jimenez and his team taken into custody.
Joining us by phone, I believe, is Andrea Jenkins. She is the Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council. Councilor, we appreciate you being with us. I have a lot of questions to ask you about the overall situation in Minneapolis.
But since you're the first official we've had on, do you have any update on the status of the CNN team that's been taken into custody?
COUNCILOR ANDREA JENKINS (D-MN) MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, John. I do not have an update at this moment. I have just -- I contacted the police chief and our city coordinator to see what they know. I believe the arrest, I'm looking at your coverage, was made by the state patrol. So that body is, you know, overseen by the governor, and so, hopefully, the governor is included in trying to get some (INAUDIBLE) to this issue too.
BERMAN: Yes. To be clear, based on the pictures that we saw, they were taken into custody by the state patrol. Councilor, waking up this morning and seeing -- I don't know if you actually slept. You probably didn't sleep given what was going on all night in Minneapolis.
JENKINS: I did not sleep well at all. No.
BERMAN: What are your feelings of the pictures of the buildings on fire, of the third precinct burned? What can you tell us?
JENKINS: Well, I know that part of the city so well. I've worked in that community. I'm devastated. I really have no words to really express this, John. People taking joy in destroying property and creating this really untenable situation for an already stressed community, stressed from the coronavirus and the impacts that that has ravaged on our communities, and now this.
I mean, the murder of George Floyd precipitated all of this. And, you know, we all have to take responsibility for this. But the fact that the FBI and the BCA and the county attorney has decided to continue to drag their feet after -- I mean, I'm not sure whether the evidence is even available.
And I have witnessed him charge people with literally no evidence. In fact, the officer (INAUDIBLE) who was in jail right now, who was determined to have committed an act of depraved indifference, there was literally no evidence, no video, no witnesses, nothing and he's in jail. And these guys just don't even get arrested.
BERMAN: Councilor, hang on for one second. I want to talk more in just a moment, but we do have some breaking news on the situation involving the CNN reporting team.
CNN President Jeff Zucker just spoke with the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, who says he deeply apologizes for what happened. He is working to have the CNN team released immediately. It was totally unacceptable and totally inadvertent what happened. They clearly had the right to be there, the CNN team. We want the media there to cover this. It is never acceptable for this to happen. The governor accepts full responsibility.
Again, a conversation between CNN President Jeff Zucker and Tim Walz apologizing for what's happened to the CNN team.
Councilor, back to you on this and the larger of what's happened over the last 12 hours, has this situation spiraled out of control?
JENKINS: Boy, yes. Yes, it has. It is very much complete chaos, or it was. And seemingly now, we can get things a little bit more under control.
I'm pretty sure you're aware that these protests and this unrest is happening all over the city. It is not just in that area. And so resources are stretched really thin. State troopers are here. I believe there's National Guard. And so it is -- yes, it's very much spiraling situation.
BERMAN: Who should be taking control right now? Who is this on this morning?
JENKINS: Right now, I think, we as government representatives, the state, the city, we have to maintain control of the streets. We cannot continue to allow this destruction to continue. It's disrupting innocent people's lives. It's putting innocent people in harm's way. And we have to get control of this situation.
BERMAN: And, Councilor, I just don't wanted to get lost in all of this, in all of these extraordinary developments that have played out before our eyes, about why is this all happening? Why there is so much pain on the streets of Minneapolis right now and in streets around the country as we saw demonstrations in solidarity with the people of your great state?
You came out yesterday and said you want a state of emergency, health emergency declared over the racism that you see. What do you mean?
JENKINS: I mean, we just witnessed it on air. Two reporters, one black, one white, and then the black reporter gets arrested. I mean, that is -- that's the stark display of racism. Certainly there are many more subtler forms. But it's palpable. I mean -- and no remorse, no justification.
So until we deal with outright racism head on, it's going to continue. And, hopefully, new stories like this, you know, maybe the president of CNN, Jeff Zucker, can call the governor again and ask him about these wider issues, because things just continue to cycle the same way. And we've got to make some changes.
BERMAN: I can hear it in your voice, and I've heard it said explicitly by other African-American friends and leaders over the last 24 hours, that more than anything right now, what they're feeling is fatigue, just tired of this.
JENKINS: Yes, emotionally, emotionally tired. I was monitoring social media last night and ended up almost getting, you know, into an argument. And I really try to stay out of that kind of back and forth on social media because it really never leads to anything good.
However, you know, I was reminded by one of our city residents that, you know, we are tired, Andrea. We can't take this anymore. We just cannot take this anymore. And so you're absolutely right. People are exhausted.
We watched the young lady in Louisville, Kentucky get shot in her bed. We watched Ahmaud Arbrey get shot jogging. The woman in the park that's breaking the law calls the police on a black man. So I hate to -- we're here in Minneapolis. This is happening in Minneapolis. This is a problem all over the country. This is not relegated to Minneapolis. And so people are tired, as am I. BERMAN: Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, we appreciate your time. We know it has been an exhausting spell for you. We wish you the best of luck. The people in your city are going to need your leadership.
JENKINS: Yes. And we're going to need everybody to help with this. People who are on the side of righteousness and we need to really step forward and not let this happen again tonight.
BERMAN: Councilor, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate it.
JENKINS: Thank you so much.
CAMEROTA: John, let's recap for everyone what a night it has been and morning as we have watched it unfold here on CNN live.
It was the third night of violence in Minneapolis. And last night, a police precinct was burned. Police were evacuated beforehand to get them out of harm's way. Other buildings have burned. We've watched this morning firefighters trying to put that out.
For our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, described basically a scene of lawlessness from about 10:00 P.M. until 5:00 A.M. And then he was on the scene at 5:00 A.M. as he watched an entire line of state patrol taking control of that area of the city marching in a line. And then, inexplicably, Omar Jimenez and our entire production team was taken into custody and arrested as they were just reporting and doing their jobs.
Josh Campbell was a block away from that, our other correspondent, while all of this was happening. And, Josh, you've been on the scene all night. And so just bring us up to speed on everything that has happened there in Minneapolis over these hours.
CAMPBELL: Yes. The wind is picking up here, Alisyn. So I apologize for the sound as we move around here.
This is a much different scene than what we saw last night and overnight. I'm actually standing right in front of Precinct 3 building. That (INAUDIBLE) last night here near where the location that George Floyd died. And now, you see a very robust police presence. The National Guard now behind me as well. As we pan out, you can see officers here now moving in, in a way that we simply haven't seen before.
In tactical gear and riot gear, the jeep that you're seeing there has been driving around. It's essentially a moving bullhorn telling people that they need to disperse, pushing people back from this location, and, again, just a show of force that we have not seen.
The smoke behind us is from a building that continues to burn. There were a number of buildings, not just the police station here but local businesses as well. This is a shopping center, a suburban shopping district and buildings all around us were torched, were set ablaze by people who were here along with the protesters.
Now, I think it's important to note, as you look at the scenes of destruction, I was out here throughout the night with our colleague, Sara Sidner, there were different groups of people here that were conducting what we saw. You had the people that were protesting the death of George Floyd. They were doing so peacefully, they had signs with them. There was another group that was setting this building behind us ablaze. They weren't part of that group of protesters. And then yet another third group were busy looting the nearby businesses.
So what I don't want is for all of this to get lost and people to assume that everyone out here on these pictures that we saw that they were engaged in some type of violence, that was not the case. One thing that we do know is that police last night opted not to conduct arrests, not to show force, not to send in the fire department. To put this blaze out and I think the reason is, as we talked to experts, is that they knew that a show of force by people in uniform could possibly turn deadly. Their calculation likely being to let a building go rather than possibly lose lives.
But now, the cleanup begins. Again, our experience was much different than that of our colleague, Omar Jimenez. I've talked to a number of police officers since I've been here. I could tell you, I was a lot less polite than he was just watching that video of his arrest. Obviously, he was very polite to police officers, nevertheless, being taken into custody. They've been here talking to us. I identified myself a number of times as a member of the press, and yet I'm still here.
So, again, the police officers moving in, they're really pushing people back now from the scene, bystanders and now the cleanup begins. This place is largely less than rubble after a night of violence here.
CAMEROTA: And, Josh, just one more question about the difference between your reporting there on the ground and Omar Jimenez's a block away. Could you see when he was being taken into custody from your vantage point?
CAMPBELL: I couldn't. It was a little bit darker out. It was earlier in the morning then, so I couldn't actually see. I was about a block away. But you had police officers that had this area surrounded. And, clearly, they were not uniformed in how they were dealing with people and members of the press.
Where I was standing, obviously, I interacted with the police officers, they were very polite. They obviously didn't take me into custody. There were a number of bystanders that came and tried to make their way past that scene, the line that they had set up, that they weren't allowing people to go beyond, and they were polite to them as well, saying that we just need you to move back, co, clearly, not a uniformed enforcement here.
And what we saw with our colleague there, just so surreal, taking a U.S. reporter into custody and his crew after they clearly identified themselves, clearly, a heavy handedness from police officers that clearly we haven't seen. And I have to tell you, that is the opposite of what we saw here last night. You didn't see police officers, even as people attempted to burn this building down behind me, set it ablaze, you didn't see the type of force that we saw on an American journalist this morning here in Minneapolis.
CAMEROTA: Josh, thank you very much for being our eyes and ears on the ground. Obviously, stand by. We'll check back with you.
Joining us now, we have CNN Political Analyst Astead Herndon. He is a New York Times National Political Reporter. We have CNN Legal Analyst Laura Coates and CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers. And I know you all have been watching everything that's unfolded overnight as well as this morning.
Laura, I just want to rely on your legal mind for a moment before we get to the bigger picture of everything that's happened. Just in terms of our crew being arrested and of Omar Jimenez being taken into custody, you know, we have to ask the question. He is black and Hispanic. He was arrested without explanation along with his crew. Josh Campbell, who's white, said that the police treated him very politely. They were very polite in asking him to stand where they wanted him to possibly stand where they wanted to stand.
Do you -- let me just quickly read that -- I know so many viewers are interested in what has happened with Omar, and so let me just read the update.
CNN management spoke with the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz. He deeply apologizes for what happened. He's working to have them released immediately. He says this was totally unacceptable, totally inadvertent.
They clearly have the right to be there. We're playing this moment again of Omar being arrested.
The governor says, we want the media to cover this. It is never acceptable for this to happen. The governor accepts full responsibility here, though it was the state patrol that took him into custody. What do you see, Laura?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Omar Jimenez is black. Josh Campbell is white. And the First Amendment is entirely clear that the media had every right to be there, as long as they were abiding by and complying with the terms that were set. He attempted to do so in a few miles.
This is my hometown. I grew up across the river in St. Paul. I owned a home a few blocks from where Mr. Floyd was killed. And I had an apartment up the street from this precinct. I've actually had to file a police report in the precinct that's now gone. And a few miles from there, I was a private practice attorney doing First Amendment litigation in media law as well. So, looking at this, I don't even see any semblance of the home that I've known. And I don't see any semblance of any reality where this was inadvertent. You heard Josh Campbell talking about this issue. He was asked the same line of questions that Omar Jimenez was. One was arrested. One's credentials, the letters C-N-N meant nothing for Omar. They meant everything apparently to add the credibility that was probably already given and extended to Josh Campbell just by default. And so what you're seeing here optically is much of what the frustration is about.
Now, the riots have devolved from a protest that began with George Floyd's death and senseless killing. All of this has been avoidable, Alisyn, every step along the way. And I drive with attention and I keep looking back at the timeline involving Marilyn Mosby and Freddie Gary, her decision to move swiftly, her decision to stand on those steps and try to quell the protests and try to do some action.
And here we have right now that four officers who were involved in the killing of an unarmed black man whose body was on the street and handcuffed behind his back, they have not been arrested since Monday or charged with any crime. Omar Jimenez shows a credential, a camera is running, his crew and producers are saying who they are and they were arrested sooner.
Optically, this is why people don't have faith in what might happen in Hennepin County. And to say it's inadvertent, I'm not sure the governor is aware of the definition of that. Because what I saw is blatant disregard.
BERMAN: Bakari, if we can, the governor he is working to get our team released. And I guarantee you, what Omar would like more than anything else is to be on the streets and reporting what he's seeing and telling us what's happening in Minneapolis, telling us the pain that's on the streets there, giving us the bigger picture of why that city has erupted over the last three days and particularly over the last 12 hours.
I do think what's happened to Omar is part of a general loss of control that seems to have happened on the streets there. I'm wondering what you see.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think when Omar woke up this morning, he thought that he would be the example we used of injustice that ravages the streets of America. Let's just look at this arrest. Omar had the protection of the First Amendment, absolutely, everything the officers told him to do. He was credentialed, he was abiding and he was still arrested. That arrest was actually on camera. And then they lied about the reason why he was arrested.
So just imagine all of the people who have had interactions with officers who don't have the infrastructure of CNN --
CAMEROTA: Bakari, I'm sorry to interrupt you. Just quickly, this is -- our camera is still live. The camera that was confiscated by police, our CNN camera that was part of Omar Jimenez's team, it's still rolling. It has been rolling for the better part of an hour at this point.
So right now, it's breaking up but it's in an elevator. So we assume that it is in a police department. That may be part of our crew that we're capturing an image of right there walking -- perhaps -- we don't know. I just don't know and I don't want to speculate. But that's our crew and we can't tell what stage of arrest or release they are in right now.
But we've just -- it has been remarkable because our camera stayed rolling as we have watched this entire thing. We believe that they are being released. We believe that they are being released and may be walking out of police headquarters. We'll see it in a moment. I'm not even sure if they know that our camera is still rolling, but this is either our crew or police carrying our camera.
And we think they're walking out.
And let's just see what happens here. It looks as though as they have just walked out of police.