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‘Do You Speak English?’: Asian American CNN Producer Arrested While Covering Daunte Wright Protest

Carolyn Sung

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    An Asian American producer for CNN was thrown to the ground and arrested while covering a protest for Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 13.

    Unlawful arrest: Carolyn Sung was covering a protest following the murder of Daunte Wright, 20, an unarmed Black man shot and killed by an officer, when she was ordered to leave, according to CNN.

    • Local law enforcement ordered the crowd to disperse as tensions rose. Among those detained was Sung, who was following the dispersal order.
    • The CNN producer was reportedly grabbed by her backpack and thrown to the ground. Officers zip-tied her hands behind her back without resisting.
    • An officer allegedly yelled at Sung and asked her, “Do you speak English?” even though the producer identified herself several times verbally and with her credentials while speaking English.

    More details: Authorities took Sung to the Hennepin County Jail, where she was processed.

    • A letter written by Attorney Leita Walker on behalf of journalists and media outlets alleges multiple instances of harassment, assault, or arrest, according to the New York Times.
    • “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 before attorneys working on her behalf were able to locate her and secure her release, a process that took more than two hours,” Walker’s letter to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and public safety officials, reads.
    • Sung’s male security detail was released at the scene after showing his credentials to the troopers.

    The aftermath: Walz described the brutal incident as “unacceptable in every circumstance,” in an interview Saturday, Star Tribune reported.

    • “Democracy cannot thrive without a free and fair and safe press,” he said. “These individual incidents will be looked into. They just need to make sure they don’t happen in the first place.”
    • “A free press is foundational to our democracy. Reporters worked tirelessly during this tumultuous year to keep Minnesotans informed,” Walz said in a tweet. “I convened a meeting today with media and law enforcement to determine a better path forward to protect the journalists covering civil unrest.”
    • Journalists must be able to do their job safely, especially during protests and “civil unrest,” he continued in another tweet.

    Police response: Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) said in a statement the dispersal orders given by the authorities at the time of the protest did not cover media personnel.

    • “MSP is prohibited from seizing equipment from or ordering someone to stop recording or observing who we know or have reason to know is a member of the media,” the state patrol said.
    • The MSP also reminded officers they can only threaten to arrest media personnel when they are suspected of committing crimes, according to the New York Post.
    • A federal court judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing officers from arresting or using force against journalists covering incidents following the violent dispersal.

    NextShark has reached out to Carolyn Sung and CNN for further comment and will update this article accordingly.

    Feature Image via Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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