NU Medill Dean Charles Whitaker Speaks Out in Support of Medill Alum & CNN Reporter Omar Jimenez by Elisa Schmitz

Opinion Headlines
3 years ago

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!

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Elisa Schmitz
Thank you to Omar Jimenez for showing us what courage under duress and professional journalism look like during these uncertain times. Thank you to Dean Charles Whitaker and Medill for speaking out about this. We have to stand with journalists and speak truth to power. Belinda Lichty Clarke Thank you for all you do!
Dieter Schmitz
This morning’s events, which unfolded on live TV, cannot be accepted by Americans nor by the citizens of any other country. After watching the arrest of Omar Jimenez and his crew, I spoke with my sister, who proudly and bravely served 13 years as a Minnesota State Police officer. She, like I, is appalled on so many levels.
What a shocking story. This video and situation are hard to comprehend. Thank you for sharing this.
Ann Marie Patitucci
Thank you for this, @elisa. I see the arrest of Mr. Jimenez as a low point for our country. Thank you for speaking up for justice and for your fellow journalists.
Elisa Schmitz
I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Dieter Schmitz , bepositive and Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead . This is a very disturbing time and I pray we all survive, learn and grow from it.
Jan Mostrom
Thank you Elisa for using your voice to call out this injustice. Let's keep learning how we can be part of a solution and not allow this injustice for so many of our brothers and sisters of color. Big things have to change and we need to demand it for ALL.
Elisa Schmitz
You are so right, Jan Mostrom ! We need to listen and learn with our hearts wide open, and then act to effect change. We need our leadership to do the same. Thank you for all you do to make a difference. xoxo

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