Photographer for ProPublica Detained by Police Near BP Refinery

By: Mark Fitzgerald

A freelance photographer for ProPublica was detained Friday while taking photos of a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas. In a story by Stephen Engelberg, the online investigative news organization said freelancer Lance Rosenfeld was confronted by police, a BP security guard and a man who identified himself as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security.

Police demanded to see the photos and shared them with the BP security officer. Rosenfeld said he was followed by a BP employee in a truck after taking a picture of a Texas City sign from a public roadway. When he pulled into a gas station his car was blocked by two police cars.

After showing the pictures and giving his name and social security number, Rosenfeld was released without charges.

In a statement, BP said the company security officer was only following federal guidelines.

ProPublica Editor in Chief Paul Steiger, issued this statement: “We certainly appreciate the need to secure the nation’s refineries. But we’re deeply troubled by BP’s conduct here, especially when they knew we were working on deadline on critical stories about this very facility. And we see no reason why any law enforcement official would need to review unpublished photographs or all the viewing of them by a representative of a private company.”

ProPublica has posted a slideshow of the photos Rosenfeld took here.

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