(New York, NY) – PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel issued the following statement in response to the arrest of a CNN crew in Minneapolis:

“With all the perversions of American democracy that we have witnessed, few rival the dystopian spectacle of a U.S. journalist calmly reporting the news and repeatedly offering to reposition his crew at the police’s request, only to be arrested, cuffed, and hauled away alongside his crew.

“These arrests took place for no fathomable reason; the video makes plain that the crew was making every effort to accommodate any request by the officers. For us at PEN America, where we routinely document the arrest and imprisonment of writers and journalists worldwide, the action was eerily familiar, but something we expect to see in authoritarian states: Turkey, Hong Kong, Egypt. To see it in the United States of America is appalling.

“PEN America has for years documented infringements on press freedom rights in the context of covering protests. For police anywhere in this country to fail to understand that journalists doing their job are not only acting within the law, but performing an essential service for the public, reveals a terrifying lapse in our ability to police ourselves as a society. While the release of the crew and an apology by the governor is an important first step, it must not end there. Police departments must urgently implement stringent policies and universal training on the protection of press freedom rights in the context of demonstrations.”


For more on PEN America’s work in this area, and our recommendations on how to uphold press freedom rights amid protests, see our 2014 report Press Freedom Under Fire in Ferguson.