It turns out that many of the cops that have been telling reporters and activists to shut off cameras or get off the beach are being paid by BP, the company whose environmental misdeeds the public is not being allowed to see.
Mother Jones' Mac McClelland reports that some of the uniformed offiicers harassing journalists are actually off-duty local law enforcement officers being paid for their time by BP.
Recent editions of SEJ's WatchDog have included video of police telling reporters not to film.
SEJ's new Daily Glob site included a video clip of activist Andrew Wheelan being chased away from public land near a BP building by a local police officer.
"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," MoJo's McClelland reports. "There you have it, plain as day: Down here, many cops do literally work for BP."
And no — even though they are police, they have no legal authority to order people not to take pictures of BP or its disaster.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Louisiana chapter, reminded local sheriffs of this fact in a June 28, 2010, letter, and threatened to take them to court.
Mac McClelland reports for Mother Jones June 29, 2010.