Wednesday, June 30, 2010

British Petroleum Employs Louisiana Police To Restrict Access To Beaches

Jason Linkins wrote this interesting piece for The Huffington Post that I thought needed to be shared:
As you are hopefully well aware, BP has been doing its level best to interfere with reporters in the Gulf Coast region to keep them from reporting on what's actually going on down there as clean-up efforts continue.

BP has been striving to keep reporters away from affected areas, put the kibosh on images of the destruction done to area wildlife, hassle local reporters and run off area activists. It has also gone as far as dispatching its own PR staff to masquerade as journalists and report the happy side of this epic disaster. Yes, National Incident Commander Thad Allen has ordered BP to stop preventing media access. Yes, media professionals are still seeking help from the administration to curb BP's clampdown.

As I've noted before, Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland has been battling the opposition like she was Melanie Laurent in "Inglourious Basterds". Last week, she reported on how Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association was hassled, questioned, and later, tailed by police officers who seemed to be taking orders from BP. Today, following up on that story, McClelland reports that this is exactly what's happening.
Mac McClelland wrote the following for Mother Jones:
Louisiana police don't have any right to tell you you can't walk onto a public beach (even to, as Esman puts it, "roll around in sticky gunky tar that I'll never be able to get off—if I want to, that's my right"). However, they do have the right to mislead you about who they're really working for. In Louisiana, as in many places, it's legal for police officers to wear their uniforms regardless of whether they're acting in an official capacity or working for a private corporation. Which is why Andrew Wheelan, the environmentalist mentioned above, was unaware that the cop who pressured him to stop filming a BP building and later pulled him over so that a BP official could question him wasn't on duty at the time. The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office told me that the deputy who pulled Wheelan over is just one of 40 in the parish who are working for BP on their own time. And the BP-police collusion goes beyond uniformed deputies moonlighting. In nearby Lafourche Parish, for example, the sheriff's office is filling 57 security positions a week for BP; the shifts are on the clock, and BP reimburses the sheriff's office for them.
Who do you think is being bullied now - British Petroleum or the American public?

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