A 12-year-old reporter confronted a police officer who allegedly threatened to 'throw her in juvi' while she was covering a story near the Arizona-Mexico border

YouTube/Hilde LysiakHilde Lysiak’s recording of Patagonia, Arizona, Marshal Joseph Patterson on Monday.
  • Hilde Lysiak, a preteen reporter for Orange Street News, a paper she publishes out of her parents’ home in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, is currently covering border issues in Arizona.
  • She was stopped by Patagonia, Arizona marshal Joseph Patterson on Monday as she rode her bike in pursuit of a story.
  • In an article detailing the encounter, she alleged that Patterson asked her for identification, threatened to throw her in juvenile jail, and falsely claimed it would be illegal for her to film him.
  • Patagonia officials released a statement online saying Patterson had been disciplined.

A 12-year-old reporter covering a story near the Arizona-Mexico border confronted a law-enforcement officer who allegedly threatened to “throw her in juvi” if she continued her report.

Hilde Lysiak, a preteen journalist who has garnered national attention for her coverage at Orange Street News, a paper she publishes out of her parents’ home in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, was pulled over by Patagonia, Arizona marshal Joseph Patterson on Monday as she rode her bike in pursuit of a story.

In an article detailing the encounter on Orange Street News, Lysiak reported that Patterson asked for identification, threatened to throw her in juvenile jail, and falsely claimed it would be illegal for her to film him and publish it online.

Lysiak was in Arizona to cover border issues, according to her website.

She said in her Orange Street News article about the incident that she identified herself as a reporter and asked him why she could be sent to jail.

“You stopped me earlier and you said that I can be thrown in juvi. What exactly am I doing that’s illegal?” Lysiak asked Patterson in video of the incident Lysiak uploaded to YouTube.

Patterson gave her a string of reasons, including claiming she couldn’t follow police officers and that there was a “mountain lion in the area.”

He then told her he was going to get in touch with her parents and drove off.


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Patagonia officials released a statement online saying Patterson had been disciplined, but did not go into detail.

“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.”

Lysiak said on Twitter that she was glad the town had taken action and that her focus is “protecting our First Amendment Rights.”

The preteen is the youngest member of the national Society of Professional Journalists, according to AZ Central, and in 2016 made headlines after she broke news about a homicide in her neighbourhood in Selinsgrove.

An upcoming TV series inspired by Lysiak’s story is being made by Apple TV, Deadline reported last year.

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