On May 29, Minnesota state police arrested a crew of three journalists from CNN while they were reporting on protests in Minneapolis. The incident took place as the crew was broadcasting live, capturing footage showing that prior to their arrest, they clearly identified themselves as members of the media and attempted to comply with police commands by offering to relocate to an area that was more preferable to law enforcement. Despite this, they were arrested. They have since been released.
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, made the following statement:
“We strongly condemn the Minnesota State Patrol’s arrest of a CNN news crew covering the protests in Minneapolis, who responded professionally and appropriately to the situation. The First Amendment protects newsgathering, and prohibits the government from using police power as a pretext for interfering with press freedoms. Arresting journalists to prevent reporting on a public demonstration is not acceptable.
“News coverage of protests like the one in Minneapolis is essential to informing the public and understanding the concerns of our communities. While we are relieved that the news crew was ultimately released, we expect the Minnesota State Patrol to provide a full explanation as to why these reporters, who identified themselves as journalists, were taken into custody.”
Journalists can consult the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’s guide to covering protests for more information on their rights and how to avoid arrests while reporting on these events. Journalists covering protests who have questions or are in need of assistance can contact the Reporters Committee’s hotline at 800-336-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.