As Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland found some months ago, members of the press trying to cover the BP oil spill have been repeatedly stopped by the company’s goons. Some of those goons are local law enforcement who are working for BP trying to “strongly encourage” reporters to adhere to laws that don’t actually exist. Like the supposed law that you can’t dig in the sand on public beaches, not even if you want to build a sandcastle. This week, Florida ABC3 newsman Dan Thomas went to a local beach with a 2′ long, blue plastic shovel to check on oil below the beach’s surface.
BP workers aren’t allowed to dig deeper than 6″ to look for oil, even though oil is easily visible before the 6″ mark, but Thomas wasn’t allowed to dig at all. “You need a permit to do that,” a Fish & Wildlife office told the reporter, encouraging him to move down the shore. Thomas did move, but was then accosted by a National Parks officer who told him it was “illegal” to film in a National Park and demanded to see his press pass. “You can’t dig in a National Park,” the officer told him. “So, no sandcastles, none of that?” a dubious Thomas asked. “You’re right,” the officer said. The park’s superintendent later said he didn’t know why Thomas was stopped and confirmed that it was, indeed, okay to dig for sandcastles on the beach.