Skip to main content

Letter details CNN journalist's arrest experience during Daunte Wright protests

Media outlets sent a letter to officials following a phone conference about the mistreatment of the press over the weekend.

A CNN producer was detained for hours and asked if she spoke English while covering protests in Brooklyn Center last week, according to an April 17 letter, signed by several media outlets, sent to Gov. Tim Walz and other state officials.

CNN producer Carolyn Sung, an Asian American, was arrested April 13 by State Troopers while she was trying to leave the area after officials issued a dispersal order, the letter says. The troopers "grabbed Sung by her backpack and threw her to the ground, zip-tying her hands behind her back."

"Sung did not resist and repeatedly identified herself as a journalist working for CNN and showed her credentials," the letter states. "Despite repeatedly hearing Sung identify herself as a member of the press and tell the troopers that the zip ties were too tight on her wrists, one trooper yelled as Sung, 'Do you speak English?'"

Sung's primary language is English. 

She was then placed in a prisoner-transport bus and brought to 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 stop and put on an orange uniform." 

Sung was eventually released after attorneys working on her behalf located her. The process took "more than two hours."

Meanwhile, a male security agent hired by CNN to work with Sung was "briefly detained, but quickly released upon showing his credentials."

The letter was sent to Walz, as well as Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, Col. Matt Langer of Minnesota State Patrol, and Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, after Walz held an hour-long phone conference with law enforcement officials and media outlets about the mistreatment of the press during the protests following Daunte Wright's April 11 death, according to CNN

Related [April 17]: Photographer reports being maced and punched by police, other journalists detained

Related [April 15]: Daunte Wright protests: Police treatment of residents, media in spotlight

Sung's arrest came a few days before U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright granted a restraining order requested by a group of journalists that prohibited law enforcement from including news media in dispersal orders issued to protesters, and also prevents them from using force and chemical munitions on news media, as well as seizing equipment.

Following the order and after the phone conference, the Minnesota State Patrol via Operation Safety Net released a statement on April 17, saying "a free press is foundational to our democracy, and the ability of journalists to cover civil unrest in our communities must be protected and encouraged," adding the State Patrol "has and will continue to respect the rights of the media to cover protest activity."

The State Patrol said it checked and photographed journalists to "expedite" the identification process but said after the restraining order it would no longer photograph journalists or their credentials. 

The statement adds, "MSP is prohibited from arresting, threatening to arrest, or threatening/using physical force against someone we know or have reason to know is a member of the media unless they are suspected of a separate crime (not simply violating a dispersal order, which doesn’t apply to them)."

"While journalists have been detained and released during enforcement actions after providing credentials, no journalists have been arrested," the statement said. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Walz, who has been criticized for the law enforcement response to journalists, has stressed that journalists must be allowed to cover protests and civil unrest without barriers. 

Bring Me The News has reached out to Operation Safety Net, which is coordinating the law enforcement response to protests, for comment on the claims made in the letter. 

Next Up

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The biggest personnel decisions facing the new GM

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has some tricky personnel decisions coming up in the near future

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

What to know about new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The former Wall Street trader is an analytics guru who appreciates collaboration.

metro transit southwest light rail green line extension construction

Southwest LRT may cost $210M more, take 3 years longer to build

The Met Council is proposing a settlement with one of its contractors due to disputes over construction changes.

Rick Spielman

Spielman: 'That head coach has to have a relationship with that QB'

"I think the No. 1 thing you’re looking for is that head coach has to have a relationship with that quarterback."

Screen Shot 2022-01-26 at 6.36.25 AM

Gallery: France 44 to build two-story addition, rooftop patio

The Minneapolis liquor store and cheese shop is stepping up its events and class offerings.


Ryan Poles picking Chicago creates battle of the rebuilds with Vikings

Both of the Vikings' GM finalists land in the same division looking to return to relevancy.

David Ortiz

Twins congratulate David Ortiz on HOF induction, it ends badly

Twins fans haven't forgotten the biggest mistake in franchise history.

benton county snowmobile jan 2022 crop

Who left the burnt snowmobile on a frozen Minnesota lake?

There wasn't much left beyond the frame and a few other large, metal parts.

T Kline Robbinsdale City Council

Charges: Drunk council member fled police on wrong side of Hwy. 100

The complaint alleges he caused a wrong-way crash, then drove around an officer that tried to stop him.


protest, Daunte Wright, Brooklyn Center

Daunte Wright protests: Police treatment of residents, media in spotlight

There were reports of residents not involved in the protest being detained, and media members being held and forced to show credentials.


Aggressive police response on third night of Daunte Wright protests

Law enforcement used armored vehicles, tear gas, and fired rubber bullets, but say officers were targeted with bricks and other projectiles.

protest, Daunte Wright

Nearly two dozen COVID cases traced to Daunte Wright protests

State health officials made the announcement Thursday.

Screen Shot 2021-04-12 at 12.05.47 PM

Washington County to decide charges against officer who killed Daunte Wright

Hennepin County Mike Freeman sent the case to Washington County per a new practice among metro area county attorneys.

daunte wright funeral - siblings

Mourners remember Daunte Wright, plead for justice

Wright was killed by a now-former Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11.

Joe Biden

President Biden to address Daunte Wright killing

The president has already called Brooklyn Center's mayor.

Brooklyn Center, protest, Daunte Wright

CNN employee struck in head by water bottle at Brooklyn Center protest

The man was knocked the ground, clearly dazed by the assault.

Screen Shot 2021-04-12 at 8.01.25 AM

Police killing of Daunte Wright: Here's what we know so far

Brooklyn Center police fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday, April 11.