Priorities: While Twin Cities burn, state police arrest ... a CNN crew? Update: State police claims not to know they were media

Minnesota law enforcement might have abandoned their own barracks to the mob last night and the National Guard might be nowhere to be seen. Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul are on fire. At least, though, law enforcement has  focused on the real threat. Which was, this morning, a … CNN reporter and camera crew, while reporting live from a burnt-out block.

Omar Jimenez can be seen and heard asking the officers where to go to get out of their way, but to no avail. Several state police officers with apparently nothing better to do arrest these high-profile risks to public safety anyway:

A cameraperson who was arrested alongside Jimenez and his producer told CNN that police said they were being arrested for not moving to a new location after being directed to do so. However, footage shows that Jimenez and the crew informed the officers that they were reporters, and attempting to get out of the way.

“We can move back to where you’d like here. We are live on the air at the moment,” Jimenez is heard saying to police officers approaching him in riot gear. “Wherever you’d want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection.”

Two police officers are shown grabbing Jimenez’s arms and informing him that he is under arrest.

“Okay. Do you mind telling me why I am under arrest, sir?” Jimenez asks as the officers pull his arms behind his back to handcuff him. Another member of the CNN crew is heard informing the officers that they are live on television.

Yes, there’s a certain amount of schadenfreude that CNN’s critics will get from this scene, but this arrest is absolutely farking ridiculous. Did the crew go somewhere they shouldn’t? Maybe, but they sounded willing to cooperate with the police who confronted them. In the wide pans we see in this clip, there appears to be no present threat, which means that this crew didn’t appear to be interfering with any operations. Scores of police are standing in place observing anyway, so this handful of journalists wouldn’t be able to start much trouble even if they were inclined to do so.

Besides, the residents of the Twin Cities and its environs might wonder why the state patrol is standing around in such numbers when their presence could stop crime elsewhere. People lost businesses and merchandise last night, and some people got beaten and shot, and the police are rounding up the usual media subjects?

It didn’t take long for this to reach the top on both sides. CNN president Jeff Zucker called Governor Tim Walz and demanded the release of his crew. Walz offered an apology and took full responsibility, said John Berman, and the crew was released from custody shortly thereafter:

The state police are Walz’ responsibility, so that’s not exactly a concession. Someone’s going to find himself on mosquito patrol in August over this, but it’s yet another example of failed leadership and perverse priorities in Minnesota over the past three days. Retreats and pandering are fanning the flames of these riots rather than calming them down, and trying to act tough on camera is about  the dumbest choice Minnesota could possibly make.

Update: As if this couldn’t get worse …

Gee, what might have been the first clue, Sherlock? The CNN camera on the man’s shoulder? The microphone in Jimenez’ hand? The fact that they told you there were live on the air? Either someone’s lying or the state police are far worse off than we ever imagined.

At least this time no one died.