Friday, February 22, 2019

Rural Arizona town marshal disciplined after threatening 12-year-old reporter

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UPDATE, March 1: The town apologized.

Officials in Patagonia, Arizona, say they have disciplined Town Marshal Joseph Patterson after he a 12-year-old journalist said he threatened her, Jonathan Clark and Nick Phillips report for the Nogales International.

Hilde Lysiak, who writes and publishes the Orange Street News in her rural hometown of Selinsgrove, Pa., was in the border town of about 900 for a few weeks with her dad Matt Lysiak, also a journalist. Not content to sit idle, Hilde chased and published news from Patagonia for her website, including a possible mountain lion sighting.

On Monday afternoon, according to an Orange Street story, Patterson accosted Lysiak while she was riding her bike and chasing a news tip, and when she identified herself as a journalist, he told her, "I don't want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff" and threatened to arrest her and put her in juvenile detention. Lysiak then began filming the interaction and asked Patterson to confirm that he had threatened to throw her in juvie, then asked him what she was doing that was illegal.

When Patterson discovered she was taping him, he said: "You can tape me, OK. But what I’m going to tell you is if you put my face on the internet, it’s against the law in Arizona, OK? So I’m not giving you permission to use my picture or my face on the internet. Do you understand all that?" It is not illegal to shoot video of the police in public, the Nogales newspaper notes.

Thousands saw the video, on Orange Street's YouTube channel and other media, and calls began flooding in to town officials. A message on the Town of Patagonia's website on Wednesday said that officials had received many comments about the video, and said that, although they don't publicly comment on personnel discipline, they "carefully reviewed" the matter and took what they believe to be appropriate action, the International reports.

Lysiak first grabbed headlines in 2016 when, at age 9, she scooped other local news outlets and broke the story of a local murder in Selinsgrove.


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