Lance Rosenfeld, a freelance photographer working for ProPublica, was detained Friday after having taken photos of a road sign and a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas. After taking the pictures for his investigative piece, Rosenfeld was followed in his car by a BP employee and eventually blocked by two police cars when he pulled into a gas station. He was eventually released after authorities reviewed his photos.
Paul Steiger, ProPublica’s editor in chief, expressed his concern over how Friday’s events were handled by BP:
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 And we see no reason why any law enforcement official would need to review unpublished photographs or all the viewing of them by a representative of a private company.
A quick perusal of photo laws (and perhaps those with more legal expertise can weigh in here) shows that Rosenfeld was within his rights to take photos of a public building while on public land (specifically, the street), as BP’s refinery is not a secure or sensitive government building.
You can see the pictures Rosenfeld took that day, such as the one featured in this post, in this slideshow.