Hilde Lysiak, an enterprising 12-year-old journalist from the central Pennsylvania town of Selinsgrove, has broken numerous stories in her hometown.
Through her self-run publication Orange Street News, the Lysiak youth has broken stories about murder, rape, and local corruption. Her budding resumé has earned her numerous accolades, including a book deal with Scholastic and a TV deal with Apple.
But recently, while reporting in Patagonia, Ariz., on local opinions about the proposed border wall, the young Lysiak was stopped by a town marshal, Joseph Patterson, who threatened to arrest her for filming the encounter.
When the Lysiak youth explained that she was a journalist working on a story, Mr. Patterson doubled down on his threat.
“I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff,” Mr. Patterson told the young Lysiak.
“I’m going to have you arrested and thrown in juvie.”
While the Lysiak youth was not arrested, she posted a description of the encounter and the video she captured.
As of this writing, it has been viewed nearly 500,000 times.
After the backlash, the town of Patagonia announced it had disciplined Mr. Patterson for his conduct.
“The matter has been carefully reviewed and we have taken action we believe to be appropriate for the situation,” the statement read.
“We do not publicly disclose personnel actions including discipline and will have no further comment on this matter.”
But when some people attempted to dox Mr. Patterson by publishing his personal contact information online, the young Lysiak again stood up for what was right.
“I am glad the town has ‘taken action,’ but one note,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I don’t believe people should spread around the Marshal’s personal information on the Internet. My focus is on protecting our First Amendment Rights. Thank you.”
Few adults have the commitment and integrity that the Lysiak youth has displayed time and time again during her burgeoning journalism career.
Her encounter with Mr. Patterson is merely the latest example of her admirable drive to support press freedom and uphold the First Amendment.
By standing up for her profession, exposing the ignorance of an overreaching official and encouraging civility, the young Lysiak has emerged as the model citizen of her generation. May she keep inspiring us all.-Toledo Blade