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Heartbreaking video shows police raid on an elderly publisher’s home. And she was having none of it

Five new things you need to know about the raids on a small-town Kansas newspaper, the owners’ home, and the house of a local city official.

1. The video showing police raiding the home of 98-year-old Joan Meyer has been released and it's difficult to watch. Because by now if you’ve been following this, you know the outcome. But you need to watch. We must all be vigilant in the fight for a free press. What you will see is Joan Meyer holding her own, pushing her walker toward the group of officers, angrily telling them to leave her house, not to touch her stuff, refusing to tell them how many computers were in the house, and calling the police chief by a choice name often used to describe a smelly round body part through which farts and hot air pass. It’s almost comical and you’ll find yourself picturing how fiercely your own mother might defend herself or a beloved business against such an event. Indeed, Meyer’s family put 60 years of hard work and passion into leading the Marion County Record’s aggressive local coverage. She was going to go down fighting. And she did go down. She collapsed and died of a heart attack the very next day.


2. The paper’s attorney, Bernie Rhodes, says Joan Meyer’s son Eric, the Record’s co-owner, is considering a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department. As Rhodes puts it, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to connect the raid to her sudden cardiac arrest, 24 hours later.”

3. Evidence has yet to be released justifying the simultaneous raids. The police chief said he was investigating whether a reporter for the Record violated state law accessing a state database to verify a local restaurant owner’s drunk driving record. The DUI arrest may have been of interest because the restaurant is under review for a liquor license. The story of the raid has become an international controversy, far bigger than the original story the reporter was looking into. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and police are mum about what, if any evidence they found.

4. We still don’t know whether police searched the cellphones, computers, and other equipment seized in the sweeping, simultaneous raids. The raids were decried nationally and internationally by constitutional experts and media organizations who said the action violated laws protecting journalists’ devices from such searches, which could expose the confidential sources who help them in their work. The County Attorney ordered the Marion Police Department to withdraw the search warrants and return the items because he saw “insufficient evidence” supporting the raids to prove a crime occurred. A forensics expert is reviewing the devices for the newspaper.

5. Things got pretty hot following the Marion City Council meeting this week. The tipster who told the newspaper about the driving record also told the Vice Mayor, who discussed with city officials whether it should be investigated considering the pending liquor license application. Then her home was raided. She said police acted recklessly and that the raid also upset her husband who was at home at the time. And a local resident and former planning commissioner spoke out at the public forum saying Chief Gideon Cody should “giddy up on out of town.”

Stay tuned and stay vigilant.


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