Patrick Breen is a photojournalist with The Arizona Republic who recently had a harrowing experience when he was trying to do his job and photograph a local baseball tournament. In a viral thread, Patrick explains that he was harassed, threatened, and driven away after parents became suspicious of his presence.
They yelled at him and called him names and talked about how they weren't reporting the stolen election. Meanwhile, Patrick was there simply to cover the baseball tournament.
Rattled. Was just accosted while taking photos at a baseball tournament in Mesa. Parents yelled for me to not take pictures of their kid. I agreed and asked which kid was theirs. They didn’t want to say and said if I did they would “kick my ass.” They yelled I was the fake— Patrick Breen 📸🌵 (@pjbreenphoto) November 22, 2020
Donald Trump and other Republicans have sowed so much distrust in the media that parents couldn't fathom that Patrick was telling the truth. Instead, they yelled at him and threatened him. But then it continued to get out of hand and even more wildly random.
news, I was taking pictures of little boys and that I was a pedophile. They said I wasn’t reporting on how ‘they stole the election.’ I replied that I was just a photographer doing my job for the newspaper. Another parent joined and they recorded my interaction.— Patrick Breen 📸🌵 (@pjbreenphoto) November 22, 2020
They called him "fake news" and a "pedophile." Then they said he wasn't reporting on how "they stole the election." But he was there to cover a local kids' baseball tournament. His job that day had nothing to do with the election, nothing to do with politics. He was a photographer taking pictures for the newspaper coverage of a baseball tournament.
These angry parents couldn't believe that for some reason. They thought that because he is part of "the media," he is in the pocket of liberals and Democrats. They had clearly given in to the conspiracies. Patrick was shocked.
I simply tried to explain that I was taking photos for the AZ Republic and wouldn’t take photos of their kids if they didn’t want. They kept yelling. Told me to walk away, which is what I ended up doing as they continued to accuse me of being a child predator and fake news.— Patrick Breen 📸🌵 (@pjbreenphoto) November 22, 2020
He tried to explain that he was there to take photos for The Arizona Republic. Although what he was doing was perfectly legal, he told them he wouldn't take photos of their kids if they didn't want. But they wouldn't listen. Instead, they drove him away, all the while calling him names and accusing him of being a pedophile.
I’m shaking. More because I just want people to understand that I’m not their enemy. I love my community. I love telling their story through pictures. Leaving defeated. I didn’t want them to think they shouted me away but more aggressive parents were eyeing me.— Patrick Breen 📸🌵 (@pjbreenphoto) November 22, 2020
Patrick loves his job, and he loves his community. He was excited to do his job that day, and then this angry horde of parents took that away from him. "So here I am in the parking lot at a public park in Mesa feeling ashamed for doing one of my favorite things in the world — taking pictures," he wrote. "If we all were just a little kinder."
Most people were sympathetic to Patrick and expressed that she never should have had to go through this. "This is awful, Patrick," reporter Sam Dykstra wrote. "Please know there are plenty grateful for your work. Bet there are tons of kids and parents elated to see their pictures in the Republic, thanks to you. Keep your head up, if you can, and keep putting good into the world."
Some critics wanted to know if he had a press pass or if he was invited by the baseball tournament. "Did parents of participants sign waivers giving rights to have images of their kids used in any form?" one person wrote. "If not, bye-bye." Of course, that's not how journalism works, and Patrick was well within his rights to photograph that tournament for his job.
Still, most understood that this incident points to a deep problem with the way some people view the media and journalists these days. If a photographer for a newspaper can't photograph a local sports event without being harassed, that's a huge problem.