CNN producer alleges police asked ‘do you speak English?’ during her arrest
A producer for CNN who was covering protests against the police killing of Daunte Wright was arrested and asked by a police officer if she speaks English, according to a letter to the governor of Minnesota.
Carolyn Sung, the CNN producer, made the allegations in a letter made public by the Ballard Spahr law firm. The letter contained several other allegations of police misconduct toward journalists covering the protests.
Ballard Spahr is currently being retained by dozens of news organizations, including NBC News, to represent their interests as they cover the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and protests across Minnesota following the police killing of Daunte Wright in nearby Brooklyn Center.
Sung, who is Asian-American, alleged that while covering the protests on April 13 she was thrown to the ground and had her hands zip tied before a Minnesota State Patrol trooper later asked her: “Do you speak English?”
“Sung, whose primary language is English, was placed in a prisoner-transport bus and sent to the Hennepin County 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 before attorneys working on her behalf were able to locate her and secure her release, a process that took more than two hours,” the letter stated.
“The purpose of the letter was to make state officials aware of the many instances of misconduct and to work toward a solution,” said Leita Walker.
A spokesperson for CNN did not immediately respond to a NBC News request for comment.
In the letter, Walker wrote that the news organizations she represents — which includes NBC News — “are deeply troubled by what has occurred over the last several days.”
“The First Amendment is clear: journalists have a robust right of access to gather and report the news without fear of intrusion or interference by law enforcement,” Walker wrote.
In tweets posted shortly after a meeting with news organizations, law enforcement and other stakeholders, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said, “Journalists must be allowed to safely cover protests and civil unrest.”
“I’ve directed our law enforcement partners to make changes that will help ensure journalists do not face barriers to doing their jobs,” Walz said.
The Minnesota State Patrol and Hennepin County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to NBC News requests for comment.
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