Skip to main site content.
Hilde Lysiak, who publishes the Orange Street News, shot to national fame in 2016 after breaking the news of a homicide in her neighborhood of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.(Facebook/Orange Street News)
Hilde Lysiak, who publishes the Orange Street News, shot to national fame in 2016 after breaking the news of a homicide in her neighborhood of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.(Facebook/Orange Street News)

Press freedom

Unfazed 12-year-old journalist films police officer who threatened to arrest her

By WITW Staff on February 25, 2019

A 12-year-old community journalist was pursuing a lead when, she says, an Arizona police officer threatened to throw her into juvenile detention for following him on her bike.

Hilde Lysiak, who publishes the Orange Street Newsshot to national fame in 2016 after breaking the news of a homicide in her neighborhood of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. She was in Arizona interviewing locals about the border wall, according to Teen Vogue, when she was stopped by the police officer.

Writing in the Orange Street News, Lysiak says Patagonia Marshal Joseph Patterson asked her for identification, and she told him she is a journalist.

“I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff,” he said, according to Lysiak. “I’m going to have you arrested and thrown in juvey. “

Lysiak then began recording their exchange, prompting the officer to tell her that it is “against the law” to “put [his] face on the internet. This is in fact untrue. “It is perfectly legal to post such a photo online,” Dan Barr, a lawyer with the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, told Nogales International. “I hope this is not reflective of the Patagonia marshal threatening people with other nonexistent criminal violations.”

Later in the video, responding to Lysiak’s query about why he had threatened to put her in juvenile detention, Patterson first said she had been following law enforcement, then noted that the area was dangerous because of a prowling mountain lion—news, incidentally, that Lysiak had covered on her site.

“Don’t follow law enforcement … I don’t want you to get hurt,” Patterson told Lysiak. “I’m looking out for your safety. The area you were in, is where we’re dealing with the mountain lion.”

“I gave you a lawful order,” he added, then accused her of lying about going to a friend’s house. “You can lie to your mother, you can lie to your father, you can lie to a priest, but you can’t lie to a law enforcement officer,” Patterson said.

Responding to comments about the incident, the town of Patagonia said in a statement that 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 will have no further comment on this matter.”

Lysiak’s father, Matthew Lysiak, told Teen Vogue that she was also not available for comment because she is “a bit behind on her schoolwork.”

Watch Hilde Lysiak’s video of being stopped and threatened with arrest by a law enforcement officer below:

Read the full story at Teen Vogue.

Related

10-year-old reporter scoops newspapers on homicide, publishes book based on her adventures

12-year-old rookie reporter holds her own in the political press pack