Here's the key exchange:
Wheelan: "Am I violating any laws or anything like that?"Officer: "Um...not particularly. BP doesn't want people filming."Wheelan: "Well, I'm not on their property so BP doesn't have anything to say about what I do right now."Officer: "Let me explain: BP doesn't want any filming. So all I can really do is strongly suggest that you not film anything right now. If that makes any sense."
Not really! Shortly thereafter, Wheelan got in his car and drove away but was soon was pulled over.
It was the same cop, but this time he had company: Kenneth Thomas, whose badge, Wheelan told me, read "Chief BP Security." The cop stood by as Thomas interrogated Wheelan for 20 minutes, asking him who he worked with, who he answered to, what he was doing, why he was down here in Louisiana. He phoned Wheelan's information in to someone. Wheelan says Thomas confiscated his Audubon volunteer badge (he'd recently attended an official Audubon/BP bird-helper volunteer training) and then wouldn't give it back, which sounds like something only a bully in a bad movie would do. Eventually, Thomas let Wheelan go.
"Then two unmarked security cars followed me," Wheelan told me. "Maybe I'm paranoid, but I was specifically trying to figure out if they were following me, and every time I pulled over, they pulled over." This went on for 20 miles. Which does little to mitigate my own developing paranoia about reporting from what can feel like a corporate-police state.Louisiana Police working for BP
So now our police are working for BP? This is outrageous. The police strongly suggests that this guy not film while on private property, and yet it wasn't BP's property. What the hell is going on? How in the hell is this being allowed to happen. Why does BP have any kind of authority with the police?
**By the way, Mother Jones is a non profit group and therefore could any support they can get to help them keep going. If you can help them out, it is worth doing even if it is only a little, and I am sure that they would appreciate it.