An Arizona police officer has come under fire after he threatened to arrest a young journalist after telling her: "I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff."
Hilde Kate Lysiak is a 12-year-old journalist with the Orange Street News who has a remarkable record for her age, having broken a murder story and many other high-profile stories herself. On February 18th, Lysiak received a tip and was biking down a local road when Patagonia Marshal Joseph Patterson stopped and asked her for identification.
Accoding to Lysiak, she identified herself as a member of the press and gave her name and phone number, at which point, Patterson responded: "I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff. I’m going to have you arrested and thrown in juvey."
When Lysiak asked why and mentioned that he had passed several people without stopping or questioning them and without his lights on, Patterson repeated the threat and said he could arrest her for "disobeying his command," which he then changed to riding on the wrong side of the road. He finally said it was because a mountain lion had been spotted in the area.
Lysiak then began filming Patterson (shown above) and asking why he threatened to arrest her, at which point he claimed that it was against the law to put his "face on the Internet" and that he did not give her permission to do so. Of course, the First Amendment allows anyone, journalist or not, to record the police in public areas so long as they are not interfering with them, which Lysiak clearly was not. The officer then continued to admonish her for a minute before driving off.
The town of Patagonia has said: "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.”
Lead image by fsHH, used under Creative Commons.