PHOENIX – Hilde Lysiak was out on a reporting assignment near the Arizona-Mexico border when she was threatened by a law-enforcement officer. The marshal for an Arizona town said he could have her arrested and throw her into jail.
While confrontations between reporters and law enforcement may not be unusual, Hilde herself is. She’s 12, and the youngest member of the national Society of Professional Journalists.
Hilde is a reporter and publisher of Orange Street News, a Pennsylvania-based news website. She has received national attention for her reporting.
Instead of backing down from the threats, she confronted Patagonia, Arizona, Marshal Joseph Patterson. Hilde, who was on her bicycle, recorded a video of the exchange and uploaded it to YouTube.
Now, after the minute-and-fifty-second video has gotten national attention on Twitter, Patterson has been disciplined for threatening to arrest Hilde and falsely telling the girl that it was illegal to record and spread the video online.
What was not captured on video, Hilde wrote about in a news article published on her website. She wrote that Patterson stopped her and asked for her identification, and she identified herself by name and as a reporter.
“I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff,” Patterson reportedly told her.
Hilde later went up to Patterson with her camera recording, andasked him to confirm that he threatened to arrest her and explain why. Patterson did so.
‘Yeah, how is that illegal?’
“You stopped me earlier and you said that I can be thrown in juvie. What exactly am I doing that’s illegal?” Hilde asked Patterson.
Before Patterson explains, he tells her she can’t use his image on the internet.
“You can tape me, OK. But what I’m going to tell you is if you put my face on the internet, it’s against the law in Arizona, OK?” he says. “So I’m not giving you permission to use my picture or my face on the internet. Do you understand all that?”
He went on to tell her that he was worried about her safety and had told her not to follow the marshals because they were going into an area where people have seen mountain lions. From Patterson’s perspective, Hilde had ignored a lawful order, the video shows.
Hilde wasn’t satisfied.
“Yeah, how is that illegal?” Hilde asked. “I understand that you’re concerned about the safety, but what exactly am I doing?”
Patterson insisted she disobeyed and also lied about where she was going. He told her she originally said she was going to her friend’s house when he first stopped her, and instead she followed him, the video shows.
“You can lie to your mother, you can lie to your father, you can lie to your priest, but you can’t lie to a law-enforcement officer,” Patterson told her.
Hilde tried to explain something to him, but he cut her off. He told her he was going to get in touch with her parents before he took off in his truck.
On the town’s website, officials posted a message, saying that Patterson has been disciplined. It doesn’t provide any details of how.
“The town of Patagonia has received many comments concerning Marshall Patterson’s interaction with a young reporter from the Orange Street News,” it says. “The matter has been carefully reviewed and we have taken action we believe to be appropriate for the situation. We do not publicly disclose personnel actions including discipline and we will have no further comment on this matter.”
A phone number for Patterson couldn’t be found.
While Hilde’s parents declined to comment, Hilde commented on Patterson’s discipline via Twitter, saying she was “glad the town has ‘taken action.’ “
The video has been viewed more than 22,000 times on Orange Street News’ YouTube account as of Friday morning.
On Twitter, users applauded the girl for not backing down and asked that people sign up for a $14.99 subscription to her newspaper to support her. The paper has subscribers across the world, the website says.
Hilde Lysiak is a “journalist who knows her rights, has made nat news more than once,” a Twitter user named Chelle wrote. “This time it is because she recorded the cop harassing her and threatening her with juvy for photographing him. Instead of reading clickbait, read it on HER page:”
In 2016, Hilde became a media sensation. At the time, she was 9, and broke the news about a homicide in her neighborhood in Selingsgrove, Pennsylvania. The headline on that April 2, 2016, story: EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!
The article attracted critical comments from social-media users, questioning whether it was appropriate for a 9-year-old girl to report on a crime scene.
But, like the most recent episode, she didn’t back down. She responded to her critics with a three-minute video in which she is wearing a button on her shirt that says, ” I ♥ free speech.” She read some of the harsh comments from social-media users and responded to them.
“I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m 9,” she said. “If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”
Follow Uriel Garcia on Twitter: @ujohnnyg
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