Asian American CNN producer zip-tied by Minnesota police and asked if she can speak English, lawyer says

·2 min read
<p>Police in Minnesota have been accused of physically attacking reporters as they cover the Daunte Wright protests</p> (AP)

Police in Minnesota have been accused of physically attacking reporters as they cover the Daunte Wright protests

(AP)

Minnesota police wrongfully arrested, manhandled, and humiliated a CNN producer while she was covering the Daunte Wright protests, a lawyer representing her and other journalists said.

According to attorney Leita Walker, Carolyn Sung was among the press at a 13 April demonstration against the shooting of Mr Wright when police ordered the crowd to disperse.

“As Sung tried to leave the area as directed, troopers grabbed Sung by her backpack and threw her to the ground, zip-tying her hands behind her back,” Ms Walker wrote in a letter to Governor Tim Walz. “Despite repeatedly hearing Sung identify herself as a member of the press and tell the troopers that the zip ties were too tight on her wrists, one trooper yelled at Sung, ‘Do you speak English?’”

Ms Sung, who is Asian-American, speaks English fluently.

According to Ms Walker, this was only the beginning of Ms Sung’s ordeal. She was then transported to jail, “where she was patted down and searched by a female officer who put her hands down Sung’s pants and in her bra, fingerprinted, electronically body-scanned, and ordered to strip and put on an orange uniform”.

Ms Sung spent more than two hours in jail before her lawyers were able to get her released.

This was only one of several accounts the letter described of Minnesota police mistreating journalists at the recent protests. It also told of state troopers spraying a “chemical irritant” at a reporter, tackling a photojournalist, punching another photographer in the face, and numerous other incidents.

On 17 April, after a meeting with Ms Walker and other representatives of the press, Governor Walz said he was working to solve the problem.

“Journalists must be allowed to safely cover protests and civil unrest,” Mr Walz wrote on Twitter. “I’ve directed our law enforcement partners to make changes that will help ensure journalists do not face barriers to doing their jobs.”

Others expressed outrage over the violence.

“This is horrifying,” human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid said of Ms Sung’s case. “@GovTimWalz must fix this immediately. Why are police not being held accountable?”

“Unrest is no excuse for First Amendment violations,” tweeted anotherCNN journalist, Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter.

On Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order forbidding Minnesota state police from arresting journalists or using force against them.

After that order, the Minnesota State Patrol defended its conduct – and denied that it had even arrested any journalists.

“While journalists have been detained and released during enforcement actions after providing credentials, no journalists have been arrested,” the police force said in a statement. “The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) has and will continue to respect the rights of the media to cover protest activity.”

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

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