From threats and attacks against journalists and newsrooms and restrictions placed on reporters, to anti-media rhetoric and a growing distrust of the media in the U.S., our right to free press is being threatened in new ways. The arrest of Omar Jimenez, a journalist and CNN correspondent, is an example of the ongoing threats to free press that we continue to face today.
While covering the George Floyd protests in Minnesota, Omar and his crew were arrested on-camera during their live broadcast coverage on CNN by the Minnesota State Patrol.
During the video footage, included below, Omar agrees to cooperate with the Minnesota State Patrol, who asked him to move locations while he was reporting on the protests. Omar politely offered to move to another location of the officer’s choice but was then arrested on-camera without warning and without being given an explanation for his arrest.
Free press is a cornerstone of democracy. The role of a journalist is to inform and educate the public. During times of turmoil and crisis, such as the protests witnessed in Minnesota, the role of journalists is even more critical. As the Program Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Carlos Martinez de la Serna, said in response to this incident, “Journalists have a responsibility to report on matters of public interest, such as protests, and should be able to freely cover these events without fear of retaliation from authorities. These arrests ring of intimidation and are simply outrageous.”
Omar Jimenez is the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award honoree for the journalism category for representing the power of consummate professionalism during his arrest.