12-Year-Old Reporter Makes Arizona Cop Look Like Doofus, Because He Is One
Hilde Lysiak, the publisher and chief reporter for the Orange Street News in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, took a small stand for freedom of the press this week. During a visit to Patagonia, Arizona, Lysiak brought her readers and the internet the story of an Arizona cop who thought he was a big old Mister Man and could boss around a member of the press, just because she's 12 years old and rides a bicycle. We have no doubt she'll be getting ignored by Donald Trump before his term is over. How neat is this kid? The Arizona Republic reports she's the "youngest member of the national Society of Professional Journalists."
The Hilde and Goliath story blew up on social media after Lysiak posted video of Patagonia's town marshal, Joseph Patterson, telling her it was illegal to record his face and put it on the internet. He was, of course, not right about that. Lysiak writes that she had been riding to check out a tip Monday when Patterson stopped her and asked for her ID. She told him she was a reporter, and he replied, "I don't want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff," then added he was "going to have you arrested and thrown in juvey."
WELL! Lysiak got out her phone and asked Patterson to explain himself. But before he did, he gave her the bullpucky warning not to record his face, which she mostly obeyed but he was in frame for just a little bit anyway:
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?
As Lysiak very correctly points out in her story, there's no such law:
The court says the First Amendment gives citizens the right to record police officers in public while they are performing their duties. But that doesn't mean you're allowed to record if you're doing so secretly interfering with the officer, or otherwise breaking the law.
Lysiak asked Patterson why he had earlier threatened to arrest her, and what she'd been doing that was illegal. He said he was concerned for her safety when she'd been following him earlier, because there were reports of a mountain lion in the area. (Lysiak had, in fact, previously reported on mountain lion sightings too.) Patterson eventually said that he believed she had ignored a lawful order from a law enforcement officer, which is why he threatened her with jail. He followed up with some sage adult advice about NOT LYING like the lying media always LIES:
You have to obey a law enforcement officer. You can lie to your mother, you can lie to your father, you can lie to your priest, but you can't lie to a law enforcement officer [...] so actually lying to me and saying you were going to your friend's house wasn't acceptable.
Lysiak tried to dispute his version of events, but the Lawman was DONE, and ignored her, telling Lysiak he'd be getting in touch with her parents. And no doubt feeling quite pleased with how he'd done his part to keep a headstrong youth from falling into a life of being a scofflaw.
Not surprisingly, the whole thing went viral, and was reported in the Arizona Republic, the local Nogales International, and even the Washington Post. The town of Patagonia posted a notice on its website saying Patterson would be subject to some sort of action "appropriate for the situation," but offered no specifics, because "We do not publicly disclose personnel actions including discipline and will have no further comment on this matter." But right after that, it listed an Arizona statute and suggested it would also be "relevant."
The Nogales International wondered about that; turns out the law isn't relevant at all for a kid (or adult) reporter out in public, no not at all:
However, that law only makes it illegal to post a police officer's personal information, such as their home address, home telephone number and personal photograph, "if the dissemination of the personal information poses an imminent and serious threat to the peace officer's … safety or the safety of that person's immediate family and the threat is reasonably apparent to the person making the information available on the world wide web to be serious and imminent."
The International also notes this isn't the first time Patterson has tried to make a big whoopin' deal out of being recorded while copping: In 2013, he hassled a guy protesting a Border Patrol checkpoint. Paterson pulled up in his patrol car, and when protester dude started recording him with his phone,
the marshal told him that videotaping a law enforcement officer is against state law, and if he put the footage on the internet Patterson would prosecute him "to the full extent of the law."
Nice power trip, dude! A lawyer with the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, Dan Barr, told both the International and WaPo that Patterson's assertion it would be illegal to post his face on the internet without permission was nonsense. That would be "complete nonsense" in the former, and "pure nonsense" in the latter. He 'splained in an email to the Post,
The law deals with publicizing information such as home addresses and "has nothing to do with taking photos of uniformed police officers doing their jobs in public," he wrote.
Barr added: "Hilde is a force of nature. One can only imagine what sort of stories she will be turning out once she has a driver's license."
Also cool: After some "supporters" circulated Patterson's contact information on the interwebs, Hilde Lysiak took to Twitter Thursday to tell everyone knock it off with the doxxing:
I am glad the town has "taken action" but one note, I don't believe people should spread around the Marshal's perso… https://t.co/243mGiqam9— Hilde Lysiak (@Hilde Lysiak)1550753704.0
Good on her! We need more reporters who know how to ethics good and do other things good, too.
And now, for a nice time change, it is your Open Thread!
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