The Arrest Of A Black CNN Reporter Was Not A Coincidence – An Open Letter To The US Ambassador

Marcus Ryder

Dear Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

We are a collection of journalists of colour working in the United Kingdom. Between us we work for every major British broadcaster, numerous news outlets and a range of media.

We unreservedly condemn the arrest of African-American correspondent Omar Jimenez and his fellow crew members, including producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez, reporting for CNN on the unrest in Minneapolis following the brutal death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

While Jimenez and his team were released following the intervention of the president of CNN and Governor Tim Walz, we note that CNN’s white reporter Josh Campbell, who was working close by with his team, was not arrested. 

We stand in solidarity with Omar Jimenez and all journalists of colour

We do not believe this is a coincidence or that the difference in race between the two reporters was incidental.

It is crucial that journalists be able to conduct their work without fear of arrest or harassment by officials.

It is important that this applies to all journalists irrespective of their race, gender or religion in order for the journalism that is produced to truly reflect the US’s rich diversity.

This is even more important when reporting on issues that specifically pertain to the country’s people of colour.

We believe that the arrest, seen across the world, sets a worrying precedent for how countries treat journalists, especially those perceived as coming from racial minorities, and how they can be detained and stopped from doing their important work.

We seek reassurance from you, in your position as ambassador, that British journalists will be able to work in the US without fear of arrest and that you will do everything in your power to ensure that this potential, international precedent is not set.

To this end we call for an immediate condemnation of the arrest by the US ambassador, and all American officials based in the UK.

We also call for an immediate inquiry, not only into the arrest of Omar Jimenez but also into the treatment of all Black journalists and journalists of colour by American authorities.

We call for the immediate suspension of the police officers involved in the arrest of Jimenez and his team until this inquiry is complete.

We stand in solidarity with Omar Jimenez and all journalists of colour who are reporting on racism in America.

Yours sincerely,

Marcus Ryder, Acting Chair of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity.

This letter is also signed by:

Aaqil Ahmed, Aaron Akinyemi, Abu Hamza, Ade Adepitan, Adrian Lester, Afua Adom, Afua Hirsch, Andrée Massiah, Aina J Khan, Alex Murray, Alex W. O. Enahoro, Amy Hall, Angela Ferreira, Angelica Udueni, Anthea Lee, Anisa Subedar, Annissa Warsame, Antoine Allen, Arti Lukha, Ashionye Ogene, Ashley John-Baptiste, Ayo Akinwolere, Ayshah Tull, Barnie Choudhury, Biz Pears, Catherine Byaruhanga, Charlene Chan-Popo, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Claire Clottey, Claire Rutter, Clive Myrie, Daniel Henry, Danny Vincent, Darren Lewis, David Olusoga, Derek Bardowell, Dhruti Shah, Diane Evans, Dr David Dunkley Gyimah, Egon Cossou, Elaine Dunkley, Emma Ko, Eno Adeogun, Faisal A. Qureshi, Farhana Haider, Gary Younge, Genelle Aldred, Gillian Joseph, Girish Desai, Girish Juneja, Greg McKenzie, Hannah Ajala, Henry Bonsu, Hewete Haileselassie, Hila May, Hugh Muir, Hugh Woozencroft, Husna Rizvi, Jaja Muhammad, Jameisha Prescod, Jamsheda Young, Jasmine Dotiwala, Jatinder Dhillion, Jay Davidson, Jayson Mansaray, Jessica Phillips, Joanna Hall, Joice Etutu, Jones Awuah, Jordan Jarrett Bryan, Joseph Izzard, Juliana Olayinka, K. Biswas, Kaamil Ahmed, Karen Gabay, Katie Mark, Kavita Patel, Keme Nzerem, Kiri Kankhwende, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Kuba Shand-Baptiste, Kurt Barling, Lee Jasper, Lenny Henry, Liliane Landor, Lincoln Hooper, Liv Little, Lola Okolosie, Lynda Smith, Maaiysa Valli, Marc Wadsworth, Marcia Mascoll, Marcus Ryder, Marverine Cole, Marvyn Harrison, Matt Kay, Maxine Watson, Maya Davis, Maysaa Jankara, Meera Syal, Michelle Matherson, Miriam O’donkor, Misan Harriman, Mohamed Madi, Mugabi Turya, Nadine White, Natalie Rose, Nels Abbey, Nike Jonah, Nike Komolafe, Nisha Lahiri, Nora Fakim, Omega Douglas, Oruj Defoite, Pat Younge, Priscilla Nwikpo, Ramzan Karmali, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, Rene Bissohong, Reya El-Salahi, Ria Chatterjee, Rianna Croxford, Rodney Hinds, Ronke Phillips, Roohi Hasan, Rowena Twesigye, Saadeya Shamsuddin, Saidata Sesay, Sajjid Kharodia, Samira Ahmed, Sangeeta Kandola, Scarlette Douglas, Sean Fletcher, Sejal Karia, Seren Jones, Serena Barker-Singh, Settit Beyene, Shaista Aziz, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Shoku Amirani, Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Simone Pennant, Sohail Shah, Sola Renner, Soraya Auer, Suhail Patel, Swarzy Macaly, Symeon Brown, Talah Kaddourah, Tali Ramsey, Tam Hussein, Tamala Caesar, Tarah Welsh, Tej Adeleye, Thamsanqa Zhou, Thomasina Jordan-Rhodes, Tokunbo Salako, Tola Mbakwe, Tolu Adeoye, Toyin Amusan, Warren Nettleford, Zing Tsjeng, Zubeida Malik.

The following organisations also co-sign this letter:

BECTU Black Member’s Subcommittee, National Union of Journalists’ Black Members Council, British East Asians in Screen & Theatre TV Collective, The Race Beat, EMPower –  ITN staff group of BAME journalists and technicians.

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