Private Security Guards Block Media Access to Oily Beach

By Matthew Harwood

The incident between Walker and the security guards contradicts a BP's executive's claim that the company would not interfere with media's attempt to cover the story. Two days prior, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles sent a letter to Gulf Coast Region Incident Commanders thanking them for their hard work and denying the allegations that the company was blocking media access to the clean-up operation and its workers.

"Recent media reports have suggested that individuals involved in the cleanup operation have been prohibited from speaking to the media, and this is simply untrue," the letter from Suttles stated (.pdf). "BP fully supports and defends all individuals rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose. BP has not and will not prevent anyone working in the cleanup operation from sharing his or her own experiences or opinions."

During the argument with the security guards, Walker mentions Suttles' letter that states cleanup workers and volunteers have the right to speak with the media.

"The email did not explicitly give you permission to do that," the security guard said in response.

Eventually sheriff's deputies from Jefferson Parish intervened in the dispute and allowed Walker to question the workers.

Asked by a sheriff's deputy who the security guards worked for, one security guard answered, "Talon Security."

Asked who gave Talon Security the authority to restrict access to a public beach, the guard said he could not answer the question.


♦ Picture of oil on beach at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama, from Jennifer Strickland of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service/Southeast/Flickr



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