This morning we all awoke to the news that CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his camera crew were arrested on live television by Minnesota State Police while covering the riots in Minneapolis in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by city police officers. While it occurred thousands of miles away, this flagrant violation of Jimenez’s First Amendment rights hit close to home for Hearst CT Media reporter, Tara O’Neill. A little over a year ago, O’Neill was arrested as she covered a protest of the Bridgeport police on the one-year anniversary of an officer-involved shooting that led to the death of a 15-year-old city boy.
O’Neill wrote today about her reaction to the arrest of yet another journalist merely doing his job:
“The media must continue to condemn First Amendment rights violations, like the arrests of Jimenez, [and his crew]. Any police officers involved in arrests of the media in situations like this should undergo First Amendment training to ensure this never happens again. If the training doesn’t exist, create it. This is not acceptable.”
As O’Neill points out, at least 40 journalists have been arrested while covering protests since 2017 according to U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution’s First Amendment, and we all – journalists and non-journalists alike – need to guard against the increasing erosion of this vital right. Democracy dies in darkness, and the press is the bright flashlight that guards against that darkness.