Police in Minneapolis cordoned off and detained a crowd of protesters, along with several journalists, including Minneapolis Star Tribune photographers Leila Navidi and Rich Tsong-Taatarii, on the evening of Nov. 4, 2020, Navidi told the Committee to Protect Journalists in a phone interview. CPJ is a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
Navidi said that they were photographing protesters as they marched onto the eastbound side of the Interstate 94 highway from the Cedar Avenue exit when Minneapolis City Police and Minnesota State Patrol closed off exits and surrounded the crowd using a technique called “kettling.”
According to the Star Tribune, the protesters represented a wide range of interests, including support of the Black Lives Matter movement and opposition to President Trump’s allegations of voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election.
Navidi said that around 7:30 p.m. she texted the on-duty Star Tribune photo editor after realizing that she and Tsong-Taatarii were trapped on the highway and might be arrested by law enforcement.
“The beginning of it was kind of nebulous in that [law enforcement] were just saying ‘Everyone who is on this highway is under arrest for public nuisance,’” Navidi told CPJ. “And then they slowly started detaining people, but they did not detain any press or take away any press.”
Navidi said that when she felt she had completed her reporting, “I went and asked one of the state patrol officers if we could leave.” The officer said he would talk to his supervisor, and, according to Navidi, the supervisor then told her that they were going to make a loudspeaker announcement that all press who wanted to leave would be allowed to exit the highway.
At around 11 p.m., after the announcement was made, Navidi said she and her Star Tribune colleague were allowed by law enforcement to exit the highway via the Cedar Avenue exit. The Tracker has documented Tsong-Taatarii’s detainment here.
The Minneapolis Police Department and Minnesota State Troopers did not respond to an emailed request for comment from CPJ.