Journalism in the Public Interest

ProPublica Photographer: I Was Followed by BP Security and Then Detained by Police

Freelance photographer Lance Rosenfield tells the story of being stopped by police and BP security while he was taking pictures for ProPublica’s articles on BP’s Texas City refinery.

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July 7, 2010, 8:54 p.m.

Damn hippies….wait that was the 70s.  Damn terrorists…get off my lawn!

N Djinn

July 7, 2010, 9:15 p.m.

You should have pushed it. They would not dare touch (as in arrest) you.


July 7, 2010, 9:51 p.m.

Texas hasn’t changed. In the late 60’s and with Alabama plates, we were stopped by the “police” for speeding (we were not speeding), driven to a local “magistrate” where we were given no choice but to pay the “speeding ticket fine” in cash. We then were released to proceed driving across their state. Pure bullying and extortion.


July 7, 2010, 9:53 p.m.

What a bunch of hired thugs. They don’t deserve the respect you gave them.


July 7, 2010, 10:24 p.m.

I am responding to this passionate comment:
“Based on ProPublica’s reporting of the incident, it seems that Mr.Rosenfield’s rights were infringed upon, and it seems that Texas City Policeand possibly the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security were the perpetrators ofthat injustice. But ProPublica have repeatedly glossed over this fact,aiming for the easier target, BP.”
To whomever wrote this, I want to say that it is not very difficult to ascertain that in this story the police and the “homeland security” officer were acting on behalf of BP prompted only by the root of all evil we know as money. In other words, can’t you see that BP is the only target??
If BP were not greasing the pockets of all these fools none of this would have happened…in fact a lot of things would not have happened but that’s another story…please don’t get me started!

Scott Rose

July 7, 2010, 11:29 p.m.

The ProPublica article at that link doesn’t mention that BP could be paying bribes to law enforcement officials so they will intimidate reporters.

The articles with the photos that the police and BP tried to intimidate the photographer out of delivering to the publication revealed illegal activity on BP’s part.

One of the articles reveals BP’s illegal discharge of toxic materials, the other continuing safety violations at an installation in Texas where human beings lost their lives previously because of BP’s negligence.  Courts generally disregard newspaper reports but photographs can in many cases be entered into evidence. 

The story makes apparent that the police and BP are in cahoots on certain points but have not established a protocol for verifying reporters’ and news photographers’ identities.  And to the contrary, the BP employees and law enforcement officials involved in this, in doing everything *except* verifying the photographer’s identity, made move after move after move blatantly to intimidate the photographer.

There is no way that a person with a brain can learn of this story and not suspect corruption between BP and law enforcement.  In any case, the police have clearly failed to establish a protocol for verifying reporters’ identities in similar circumstances, which is to say, they are not doing the job they are paid with tax dollars to do.

Just absolutely appalling!


July 7, 2010, 11:39 p.m.

typical neo-nazi america


July 8, 2010, 12:12 a.m.

If they blocked him in, isn’t that false imprisonment?  Seems like they’d have to charge him with something or let him go.


July 8, 2010, 1:32 a.m.

This is totally ridiculous. I hope you most assuredly contacted a lawyer and sent this story in to national papers and news networks. It’s sad when your local police and Homeland Security feels they can violate your rights…


July 8, 2010, 1:51 a.m.

“I told him the same thing, but assured him that they were just pictures of the city sign, taken while I was in the public right of way”....YOU LIE. I looked through your slide show, and yes, there were pictures of the Texas City sign. However, there were also pictures of the refinery. Get over yourself. They were doing their job.

Sheila Katzman

July 8, 2010, 3:22 a.m.

I think this is harrassment and trying to surpres the certain media.  And then again, I wonder what BP has to hide?  I hope you sue the s…t out of the police, BP, and the FBI. 


Curt Terry

July 8, 2010, 7:42 a.m.

As long as you people keep submitting to these wild fragrant violations of our Constitution with no objections and meekly turn over all your private information even though you are clearly in the right this will not stop at all, you just made it easier for them and made them more confident. And this story will do the opposite now, it will help instill the fear they wish to spread. Next time stand up for your rights!


July 8, 2010, 8:10 a.m.

Clearly American’s have yet to arrive at the irrevocable conclusion that only by force of arms will we be able to stop the system from slowly eroding whatever rights we may still have before the Corporate Government of Barrack Obama.  It is clear beyond any doubt that rational logical dialogue has failed.  If people wish to continue now, then the use of firearms has become the only rational next step.  I will not accept a molestation as this photojournalist was forced to.  Clearly the US Corporate Government is out of control and headed towards a police state environment.  British Petroleum security can be easily killed if this happens once more.  And this country who makes all sorts of noise about how tough they are with their guns, sure look like a bunch of cowards to me.  I AM NOT A GUN HUGGER, AND DESPISE THE NRA.  On the other hand, I wear a gun most of the time.  I do this for safety purposes, and I suggest that other people wake up, these rodents and roaches from the “government” are already in your houses.

Jeremy McMullen

July 8, 2010, 8:40 a.m.

I really don’t understand why BP, The Texas Police or the FBI would care if an individual is taking pictures. There is a complete layout of all of the refineries including Orthophotos AND street view that Google has for free for every Tom, Dick & Mary available to the entire world. If you really want to see the refineries can take a digital stroll around the HWY 197 Loop.;=&hnear=Texas+City,+TX&gl=us&ei=hM81TKyXNcTflgfr4ezUBw&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ8gEwAA
It seems like a large waste of $‘s for BP the Texas City tax payers and the Feds to wasting time with someone taking pictures. I highly doubt there would be anything Lance could do about this given the fact that we destroyed another innocent nation under the guise of homeland security.

Joel B

July 8, 2010, 10:16 a.m.

@mike whatley Noise?  I prefer to call this breaking the law.  Just because you are told to enforce the law doesn’t mean you are above it.  Do you by chance work for BP?

J Diaz, Florida

July 8, 2010, 10:41 a.m.

I will not be going to Texas anytime soon, that’s for sure. In this new world order citizens are at risk.


July 8, 2010, 10:50 a.m.

Shifting gears, anyone else out there exploring other places to live on this planet where personal freedoms are still respected? At some point, the lip-lock between the haves and the fed becomes too much to overcome and it’s time to punt.


July 8, 2010, 12:50 p.m.

Illegal detention: check

Hamfisted, wasteful, counterproductive law enforcement response to a non-threat: check

Intentional and illegal mishandling of sensitive personal information: check

LEOs and DHS gleefully acting as BP’s security lackeys: check

Profit protection for a foreign corporation being put above citizen’s rights, safety, and security: check

Welcome to Amerika.


July 8, 2010, 2:50 p.m.

This is a sad example of the United Corporations of America and is strangely reminicent of the coal mine barons and their control over the police. This also happened when a newspaper in Detroit was struck by the union and the paper hired local police as goons to beat strikers. It is too bad that this administration which raised so many peoples hopes has been as bad as the last,just more sugar-coated.


July 8, 2010, 4:14 p.m.

Scary, this is no longer be the home of the free. 
Lance Rosenfield handled this situation very well.

Len Small

July 8, 2010, 5:29 p.m.

I looks very apparent that the Terrorists have won.

They have managed to intimidate the most powerful nation on Earth to the point that it is alienating it’s citizens and turning them away from being supportive of their Government, Armed Forces and Police and other Security Services.

This provides the best breeding ground for dissidents, anarchists and potential “Home Grown” Terrorists “see the British Bombers.”

Folk intent on doing mischief to these installations, would do so in a far more discrete way and most certainly in a clandestine manner so as NOT to alert Police and Security to their presence and purpose.

The Terrorists must be having a party when this stupidity is publicly disclosed.

Time we pulled down our white flag and went about our business in a normal manner not intimidated by these vicious scoundrels who win when our own services over react and intimidate our own decent citizens.


July 8, 2010, 5:58 p.m.

This whole situation stinks to high heavens.  Of course they have the Homeland Security baloney to throw out. But how could they go so ballistic over photos being taken of a sign?  It really does go right to the fact that BP is going to dodge and hedge and do their best to cover up as much as possible and try hard not to do the right thing if they can possibly avoid doing so. And unfortunately with the cooperation of the police force.


July 8, 2010, 6:03 p.m.

Pete , einfach Jungen zurück in deinen Käfig .


July 8, 2010, 6:16 p.m.

Part of the problem is that BP apparently owns the Texas City, PD.  The second problem is that the own a joke of a New Department (DHS) that wasn’t needed in the first place.  We already had the DOD and DOJ.  NOTHING, should trump the Constitution whether its the Dumb pseudo-Texan Presidents or the current wonky idiot.  Lastly, the the person the brought up Oliver Stone, he is a big west coast capitalist that consorts with douche bags like Chavez.


July 8, 2010, 6:30 p.m.

It is also ironic to see a group of Texas cops acting like door boys for British Petroleum.  Lets quit calling these corporate punks BP and call them by there real name, British Petroleum that assimilated Gulf and Amoco.

T. Lee Marshall

July 8, 2010, 8:49 p.m.

Unless you are driving, the police cannot require you to show ID to prove who you are. Tell them your name and if they want more, require them to show, actually voice, reasonable cause or suspicion. Don’t give them an inch—it weakens all our rights.
  I recently warned the FBI that E-bay was becoming a Terrorist’s Walmart. I warned them that I have found sales on E-bay to be components to make the world’s second most powerful explosive. For 130 bucks I could demolish a city block. The FBI stopped by my home to arrest me. They wanted to know where I set-off my explosives. They called the Utah County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad. These two big, burley deputies carried a large fiberglassed, padded case out of my home. The case could have survived a nuclear attack better than a cockroach. What was in the case? One firecracker. Gives ya a warm feeling of security doesn’t it.
BTW, good job T. Christian Miller.

Pastor Dave

July 8, 2010, 8:55 p.m.

Don’t know what your problem is Pete, but you should be embarrassed.I would think your father would be embarrassed for you ... if you have one.


July 8, 2010, 10:32 p.m.

Unfortunately stories like these are so common that there are entire websites dedicated to them!

Isn’t it time that everyone who considers themselves even a marginal photographer begins to band together to gather together outside of these “potential targets” and begin snapping pictures?


July 8, 2010, 10:51 p.m.


If you haven’t called the internal affairs department of the Texas City PD by now… man. Not to mention, FOI the police report for that day.

Thanks for keeping us posted.

Gavin Roskamp

July 8, 2010, 10:53 p.m.

They want to see your photos? What happens if you took some they don’t like? They will delete them? You can still EASILY recover ANY pictures deleted from a camera, so long as you don’t take many afterwards. And if you were a terrorist, you would take the pictures, delete them, so the police would have no evidence, then recover them once you get back home, then reformat the card the pictures were taken with.

Wow, I sound like a mass murderer there! Anyways, that’s how I would have dealt with it. I would have taken all the blesséd pictures I wanted, then deleted all but a few inconspicuous ones, showed the cop that, and just recovered them once I got home. Not that hard.

But wow. What asses. BP needs to mind their own business. Send the guards down to the coastline to fix their other huge oopsie.


July 9, 2010, 3:55 a.m.

Pete, grow up you fool


July 9, 2010, 5:31 a.m.

Taking a picture, even of an oil refinery, is not illegal. It is afterall sitting outside. And for those who blame the current administration for this, that is pure foolishness. This stuff has been going on since 9/11. I definitely agree that we have to keep the country safe but we must do so using common sense.


July 9, 2010, 8:31 a.m.

Hey, Pete, who read this story to you?  Clearly someone with your level of education can’t read or string a sentence together. 

Take your ignorant hatred elsewhere like the Palin camp.


July 9, 2010, 9 a.m.

OK, so the law was broken. Any next steps, or is PP just going to let these corporate pigs do anything they want. Ignore comments by corporate goons trying to downplay this.


July 9, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

Everyone who lives in the area should go out there and start taking pictures of the sign.


July 9, 2010, 11:35 a.m.

America is still the home of the free. There were probably some breaches of privacy, but it’s nice not to be beaten up or simply shot, isn’t it.

And next time, if you play your cards really well, they might do a wrongful arrest on you. Then you can sue not only the police but BP too. Not many countries you can do that in.


July 9, 2010, 11:40 a.m.

Wow, you have live moderators who allow comments like “jooboy”? That’s classy.


July 9, 2010, 1:32 p.m.

I would like to commend the photojounalist for trying to complete their assignment.

It seems strange that the “authorities” would wait until you completed taking your pictures, if they truely believed that you were some covert operator.  I also don’t understand why they would need your personal ID after they viewed the pictures and deemed them “not suspicious”.

Anytime some one is stopped while driving, it is fair to ask for their Driver’s License, but as for other personal information, I too would balk.  If they threatened arrest / detention then I would have said OK, take me to a police facility where I can contact a lawyer.  But, hindsight is pretty easy.

As for the DHS agent, he should know better than to share personal information with non-officials and I would definitely report this to DHS or whoever heads the gov’t agency, if only because if this guy sounds rogue. 

The episode is a heads up to other citizens who carry cameras to OMG BP facilities.  After reading that media can be detained and fined for trying to report on the BP Oil Disaster, yours is definitely NOT a knee jerk, like some seem to want to believe.

Dillon Chates

July 9, 2010, 2:12 p.m.

Welcome to George Orwell’s “1984”.These tactics will only continue to multiply for as long as we continue to remain on an illegal & official government sanctioned ‘war footing’.Both our current & previous presidents share equally in the blame for the demise of our civil liberties.


July 9, 2010, 5:37 p.m.

could of been worse if he had long hair.


July 9, 2010, 6:59 p.m.

here is the address and phone number of Gary Steif of BP Security. Feel free to let him know how you feel about his particular view of the US Constitution:

1914 14th Ave N
Texas City, TX 77590-5428
(409) 948-2927


July 9, 2010, 7:03 p.m.

Here is the alleged Officer Kreitemeyer’s home address and phone number.

Tim J Krietemeyer
13125 S Sayko St
Santa Fe, TX 77510-9321
(409) 316-4587

Perhaps he could enjoy reading a copy the US Constitution.


July 9, 2010, 7:07 p.m.

Here is Tom Robison’s home address and phone number.

You know what to do.

Tom Robison
114 Sequoia St
Lake Jackson, TX 77566
(979) 480-0987


July 9, 2010, 7:09 p.m.

You can find all these officers’ and goons’ home addresses and phone numbers online.

Chris Herz

July 9, 2010, 10:12 p.m.

Just today we had here in Frederick, MD a young man, Gary Staples, arrested for photographing a police traffic stop.  Apparently a couple weeks back the legislature, in the middle of the night passed a law making this a crime! No public input, no input from the press. 

Welcome to the Soviet States of America.


July 10, 2010, 9:24 a.m.

In all my days of watching as corporations go down, this has got to be my favorite…..its a normal human response for everyone to be way pissed for this blunder, what is insane is watching how bp has handled the pr aspect….they have made every wrong move that you could think of from this goon squad situation to the cover up of the flow rate and the sickening pr to try to convince those who arn’t watching that closly that things are getting better.
They(bp) need to hire a guy who will save them with honesty, or some sort of repenting period, and bow down to the American people and lick the oil outa our A#$^‘s
but seriously, lets just take the market away from them as fast or slow as we can manage. start to switch to alternatives and physically wrest market share away from these wrecklessly irresponsible huge multi-national companies.

Micheal Toft

July 10, 2010, 12:04 p.m.

His photography is horrible… honestlly, I pray propublica wasn’t going to pay him for this junk.

Arlene Bowman

July 10, 2010, 12:34 p.m.

What was described is not surprising. Yeah, it’s very fascistic.  What’s interesting about this is the person is White and he is a picture taker. This is the exact type treatment: antagonistic bullish behavior I received from police since I was 27 in LA and as I crossed into Canada by the customs. They don’t care. They’re uneducated. Usually some Mr.Know it All attitude acts this way because I am a brown skinned, Dine’ filmmaker woman.  Although the Bill 1070 didn’t develop into a law in the state of California, the harassment/target of dark skinned people on the streets in LA exists.  It causes a psychological number. Although this comment is not about the topic, at the same time it is about the topic, police repression. That’s why the AZ Immigration Law is racist because simply it is based upon the way a person looks to be interrogated by police.  I wrote a scene about getting harassed by police and put it in my video, a drama called the Graffiti about racism.  Hello Big Brother. Bill of Rights out the window! Yeah, it’s got to change.


July 10, 2010, 1:01 p.m.

I’m not one to be critical of the government, especially since I just turned the legal voting age. But all I know is that what you just described is some certified bullsh*it.

Kevin R

July 10, 2010, 7:47 p.m.

I haven’t studied the law for a couple of years and am certainly not a lawyer, so please correct me if this information is inaccurate. But instead of telling people to know their rights, I will try to actually help us all know a little bit more about our rights.

Under the Privacy Act of 1974, section (i)(1) states that Criminal penalties can be assessed if:

  “Any officer or employee of an agency, who by virtue of his employment or official position, has possession of, or access to, agency records which contain individually identifiable information the disclosure of which is prohibited by this section or by rules or regulations established thereunder, and who knowing that disclosure of the specific material is so prohibited, willfully discloses the material in any manner to any person or agency not entitled to receive it, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than $5,000.”

You can read up on the whole act here -

Shield laws also protect our rights as members of the media, but they vary state-to-state. For a start, looking here could help you know what is and isn’t legal in your state.

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