The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has reviewed the video from the arrest of a CNN crew, on Friday morning, May 29, 2020, while reporting on the protests in Minneapolis. We condemn in the strongest terms the actions by the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) in using the highly suspect "catch & release" tactic to stop journalists from reporting on matters of public concern. Their actions are not only troubling but illegal. The NPPA has spent years working with and training law enforcement and journalists regarding the rights and limitations to photograph and record police performing their official duties in a public place. The actions this morning by MSP go against all those widely accepted policies and guidelines. In light of the in-custody death of George Floyd on Monday, May 25, 2020, that led to these protests, the fact that the MSP arrested a journalist of color is all the more disturbing.
Despite its mission statement as ”a progressive law enforcement agency providing superior service to Minnesota’s residents, visitors, and allied agencies,” the MSP has fallen severely short of its promise to “strive for excellence in all that we do through the development of forward-thinking leadership, technology, innovation, and a quality workforce.”
It would be very wise for them to follow the pertinent guidelines provided by the Oakland Police Department for the media covering demonstrations:
• The media has a right to cover protests from any location the public is normally allowed.
• Leave the media alone and focus on protesters and those committing criminal acts.
• When in doubt, “Let the media film.”
Although MSP self-servingly stated they released the CNN crew “once they were confirmed to be members of the media,” it should have been obvious to anyone with the most basic training that these were journalists. It should also be noted that at the time of the arrest there was no direct interaction between police and protestors that needed to be immediately addressed by anything more than providing the journalists with directions as to where they should be. That request was made calmly and repeatedly by the CNN reporter and other members of the crew.
It is unfortunate that once again the police trample on the First Amendment, viewers are denied the ability to be informed, and taxpayers will bear the burden of paying for these unconstitutional acts.
NPPA stands ready to work with law enforcement to provide training to avoid these chilling incidents from recurring.
For further information contact NPPA’s legal counsel Mickey Osterreicher, [email protected], or Alicia Calzada, [email protected].
NPPA Executive Director, [email protected]
NPPA President, [email protected]