12-year-old journalist Hilde Kate Lysiak is going viral after catching an Arizona police officer who threatened to send her to juvenile detention in a lie.
Lysiak, who runs the newspaper Orange Street News, was in Patagonia, AZ working on an unspecified story. In her account of events, she was riding her bike to investigate a tip when Patagonia Marshal Joseph Patterson asked her for identification. She gave him her name and phone number, and told him she was a journalist.
“I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff,” Patterson said in response, adding that he was going to have Lysiak “arrested and thrown in juvey [sic].”
Later, when she ran into Patterson a second time, she filmed him and he threatened to have her arrested.
When Lysiak asked what she was doing that might be considered illegal, Patterson first said she was “disobeying the command of a police officer.” He then said Lysiak was riding her bike on the wrong side of the road. He also said there was a mountain lion in the area, so he wanted her off the streets to protect her safety — although, as Lysiak pointed out in her piece, other people were in the vicinity and Patterson didn’t tell them to get off the road.
“I’m worried about your safety, the area you were in we were dealing with a mountain lion,” Patterson said. “I gave you a lawful order.”
In any case, this isn’t the first time Lysiak has faced backlash for being a reporter. In 2016, when Lysiak was nine years old, she broke the story of a murder in her hometown, and people balked at the idea of a third-grader reporting on a murder. In response, Lysiak recorded a video in which she responded to critics who said she was too young to be working as a reporter and should be having tea parties instead.
“I know this makes some of you uncomfortable and I know some of you want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m nine,” Lysiak said at the time. “But if you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news.”