A short update to a post from earlier in the week about the case of Lance Rosenfield, a freelance photographer detained in Texas by police, a BP security officer and the city’s police department liaison to the Joint Terrorism Task force.
Rosenfield had been taking photographs of a sign outside BP refinery in Texas City for non-profit news organisation ProPublica and had remained on a public right of way.
Texas newspaper the Daily News has posted three dashboard-camera videos of the exchange between the police and Rosenfield. The News also details the laws under which Rosenfield was asked to reveal his images to police and give his name, phone number and social security number.
The audio in these videos is poor due to wind, but they show a relatively relaxed situation in which police try to determine that Rosenfield has no suspicious motive for photographing an oil refinery.
Police in England have come in for a fair amount of criticism recently for their treatment of photographers (see here and here), but their US counterparts have received some attention too after detaining freelance photographer Lance Rosenfield, who was working for ProPublica at the time.
Rosenfield was driving away after taking photos of a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas when he was followed by a BP employee, blocked off by two police cars and detained. Rosenfield had remained in a public space outside the refinery while working. The police reviewed his pictures and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. According to Rosenfield these details were then shared with BP.
Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of ProPublica, said:
“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 And we see no reason why, if law enforcement needed to review the unpublished photographs, that should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company.”