Black gay journalist covering Black Lives Matter protests arrested and held for six hours for ‘doing nothing’

CNN commentator Keith Boykin

CNN commentator Keith Boykin has spoken out after being arrested “for doing nothing” while  photographing Black Lives Matter protests in New York City.

Boykin has said he was taking pictures and video of the “entirely peaceful” protest on a highway in Harlem on Saturday – one of countless demonstrations across the US over the killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd.

The broadcaster and political commentator, who once served in the Clinton White House, said he was exercising his “First Amendment right to be a journalist” when he was arrested with no warning, despite identifying himself as a journalist.

CNN’s Keith Boykin: ‘The police have too much power’

Speaking to CNN‘s Don Lemon, Boykin explained: “I was watching the Black Lives Matter protests going down the street was mostly almost entirely peaceful… I was in front of the protesters with my with my camera so I could video and take photos. And the police came… and they they said they’re going to arrest people.

“I said, ‘I’m with the press’. They walked by me, but then they turned around and they arrested me anyway. I asked, ‘why am I being arrested?’ and they said, ‘well, you’re blocking the highway’.

“Now mind you, I wasn’t blocking the highway, because the police and the protesters were blocking the highway and I was in between the two of them. I was simply photographing what was taking place and documenting what was happening.”

He added: “They could have just said, ‘you need to move off the highway or you going to be arrested.’ They didn’t bother to do that. They just arrested me. The police have too much power.”

The broadcaster added: “So often the police actually don’t de-escelate, but they make matters worse, and that’s what people are protesting about. That’s why they’re so upset about George Floyd right now. It saddens me there’s been a horrible week for everybody in America.”

CNN commentator Keith Boykin spoke to Don Lemon about his experiences

CNN commentator Keith Boykin spoke to Don Lemon about his experiences

Boykin says he was detained for six hours, being placed in a police holding cell with 35 other inmates.

He added: “Only half of them had masks, and there’s no opportunity for social distancing when you’re in a cell with 35 people. It’s just impossible to do.”

Protesters ‘are frustrated with the way society has treated them’

Boykin stressed: “The people who I saw today were peacefully protesting, and they were of all different races and colours and genders and sexual orientations. predominantly black, predominantly young, in Harlem.

“These are people who are frustrated, they’re frustrated with the way that society has treated them. They’re frustrated with the condition of our country.”

Dozens of journalists have reported being harassed, arrested and assaulted by police while doing their jobs during the protests.

CNN reporter Omar Jiminez was arrested live on air on Friday in Minneapolis, the same day that freelance photojournalist Linda Tirado was blinded in one eye after being shot in the face with a rubber bullet.