LOS ANGELES – SAG-AFTRA has released the following statement in response to the arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his colleagues, Bill Kirkos and Leonel Mendez, in Minneapolis this morning while reporting on protests.
“As journalists it is our job to cover protests, demonstrations, marches and rallies — some peaceful, some not. We do this without interfering with protesters or law enforcement. The arrest of Omar Jimenez, who was clearly identified as a credentialed member of the news media, is unacceptable.”
SAG-AFTRA represents broadcast journalists in addition to actors, recording artists and other performers, and the union holds press freedoms in the highest regard. In 2017, SAG-AFTRA released a public statement on its support for a free press, and the union reaffirms that position now. It read:
“As a union whose membership includes broadcast and online journalists, SAG-AFTRA champions the rights of a free press, whose primary role is to provide citizens with the information they need to effectively govern a democracy. These rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that the press shall be free from government interference in the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.
“SAG-AFTRA, journalists and non-journalists alike, supports a free and unencumbered press and stands with any journalist who might find his or her ability to report on our government challenged or compromised.
“SAG-AFTRA believes first and foremost that citizens in a democracy need the truth. Furthermore, SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists have an obligation to monitor and question those in power, pointing out wrongdoing when they find it, noting when facts asserted are not supported by evidence, and reporting inconsistencies in the positions of public figures.
“As working professionals, members of the news media have an obligation to verify the accuracy of what they report, with loyalty only to their readers, listeners and viewers and not to any political party, affiliation or ideology.
“As a proud labor union representing more than 160,000 broadcasters, actors and entertainers, SAG-AFTRA stands with all of its members in ensuring that the basic rights of a free and independent press continue to be upheld.”