12-Year-Old Journalist Threatened to be Arrested by AZ Marshall

Lauren Mitchell, OwlFeed Editor-In-Chief

At only 9 years old, Hilde Lysiak made a name for herself when she was the first to report a murder in her hometown, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, rising controversy about 9-year-olds being allowed near crime scenes. Now, she has Scholastic book series and an upcoming TV show about her.

Photo credit: Washington Post

Orange Street News, the paper she publishes from her parents’ home, according to Guardian, has since allowed her to write about “rapes, robberies and a roaming mountain lion, as well as fending off threatening text messages after reporting on an alleged drug dealer.” Her father is a journalist.

Only a few years after the last incident, her name headlines papers once again. On February 18th, 2019, she posted an article titled, “Patagonia Marshal Threatens to Arrest OSN Publisher: SEE THE VIDEO.”

After following a story in Patagonia, Arizona, where her family is temporarily staying, Lysiak was stopped on her bike by Patagonia Marshal Joseph Patterson and she identified herself as a member of the media. Patterson went on to threaten to take her to juvenile jail, he continued on to say, “I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff.”

When she ran into Patterson again later, she was videoing the conversation. “You stopped me earlier and you said that I can be thrown in juvie,” she said in the video. “What exactly am I doing that’s illegal?”

Patterson tells her that she is allowed to video him, but that it is illegal in Arizona to put the video of his face on the internet. However, there is no such law as Lysiak is protected by the First Amendment.

Now with over 1 million hits on the original article and many other news publications writing about the confrontation, many people are telling Patagonia town officials to do something about it.

With all this circulation of news, the authorities on the town website stated, “The town of Patagonia has received many comments concerning Marshal Patterson’s interaction with a young reporter from the Orange Street News…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 comments on this matter.”

On the other hand, some people are behind the Marshal as he was only trying to protect Lysiak. During this time, Lysiak was following Patterson as the County was dealing with a mountain lion nearby, and Patterson did not want her to get hurt.

Similar to the incident, years ago, people are critical of Lysiak and her parents for allowing her to go on such dangerous goose chases like she did to write about the roaming mountain lion. However, Lysiak is one tough reporter as she has fought back against threats after a huge story on an alleged drug dealer.

As of February 27th, the town of Patagonia has apologized. Mayor Andrea Wood said, “The governing body of the town of Patagonia would like to apologize for the First Amendment rights violation inflicted upon Hilde Lysiak…we encourage and respect your continued aspirations as a successful reporter. We believe and fully support the constitutional right to freedom of speech in the public sector. We will not tolerate bias of any kind including infringement of freedom of speech.”

Lysiak’s name will definitely stay in the spotlight as she continues to write for her news site, and fight against those who do injustice.