NU Medill Dean Charles Whitaker Speaks Out in Support of Medill Alum & CNN Reporter Omar Jimenez by Elisa Schmitz
For so many reasons, our world is in turmoil. From the coronavirus pandemic to the senseless killings of African Americans – the most recent of which is George Floyd – many of us are being tested and pushed to our limits. Today's arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez – on live television – by the Minnesota State Patrol was shocking, frightening and deeply upsetting.
As a professional journalist and proud alumna of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, I was not surprised to learn that Jimenez, who handled himself with the calm and courage of a true professional journalist, is a fellow alum of Medill. I am sharing this statement by Medill's Dean, Charles Whitaker, about what happened:
"I watched in horror this morning as our alumnus and friend, CNN Reporter Omar Jimenez (BSJ15), was handcuffed and carted away by the Minnesota State Patrol for the sin of doing journalism. I was fearful and angry as this young man, in the midst of conducting a live shot that attempted to shed light on the devastating events playing out in the streets of Minneapolis, was surrounded and detained with little explanation.
I could not help but wonder whether his brown skin marked him for this indignity, and I thought of my own adult sons and the threat they face in a society that still too often demonizes African-American men. To his credit, Omar, a consummate professional, true to his Medill training, remained calm and respectful as his job and First-Amendment rights were impinged upon. I salute him for his bravery and composure. And while Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has apologized for this egregious offense, I remain appalled that it happened.
Recent events – not the least of which are the disproportionately devastating effects of COVID-19 on communities of color – have once again placed our nation’s racial divide in stark relief. I am grateful for the work of intrepid reporters like Omar Jimenez who are on our streets giving face and voice to struggles and wrongdoings. And I fiercely decry any efforts to hinder these brave journalists – regardless of their race or ethnicity – from telling these vital stories."
Photo: Charles Whitaker, Dean of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
To all hard-working professional journalists, please keep doing your jobs with the bravery displayed today by Omar Jimenez. We depend on you to be there to deliver the news and information we need, and especially the sometimes ugly truth. Thank you for staying strong, even when it's not easy. We are with you!
Take 30 seconds and join the 30Seconds community. Inspire and be inspired.