While BP has insisted publicly that it has not prevented spill workers from talking to the press, Dillon says company officials made it perfectly clear to contractors that they would lose their jobs if they spoke to reporters. “There are people down on that beach that are begging to talk to reporters, because they’re having pay issues, having problems,” says Dillon of the workers in Grand Isle. “Any of those laborers that are down there are being told behind closed doors that if they talk to the media, they’ll be fired.”
To enforce its media blockade, Dillon says, the company turned to its security force, largely made up of guys like him, ex-military and law enforcement personnel. “They were given orders to herd the media away,” he says, and they followed those instructions just like he did. “They didn’t know the reason behind it—they were just told keep the media away from [the cleanup workers].” He adds, “That’s a First Amendment violation… You can’t keep the media away. It’s a public beach. We weren’t under Martial Law.”
Apparently, after working on Grand Isle, Dillon was transferred to the Unified Command Center in Houma, Louisiana, where he took the pictures that he believes got him fired. “They screwed up royally when they let me go,” Dillon told Mother Jones. “I was down there to do the right thing, to clean up. They just don’t know who they’re messing with.”
Indeed, few people involved with BP have been willing to open up with the media. Dillon’s decision to do so deserves praise (as the does the Coast Guard’s decision on Monday to allow the media to access safety zones around boom deployed on oiled coastlines), but in order to prove that this isn’t just a sour-grapes complaint against the company, we need more details from him. So, it will be interesting to see what else Dillon has to add (especially about those illicit photos) in the second part of his interview with WDSU, and hopefully his candor will encourage others to speak out.