Police Raid Kansas Newspaper

Press association calls attack on 'Marion County Record' illegal and unprecedented
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2023 4:50 PM CDT
Police Seize Computers, Phones From Kansas Newspaper
The county courthouse in Marion, Kansas   (Getty/Redheadedhornet)

Police officers and sheriff's deputies raided the offices of a Kansas newspaper on Friday, taking computers and cellphones, apparently in response to a confidential source providing documents to the paper's staff. The officers seized "everything we have," said Eric Meyer, owner and publisher of the Marion County Record. The message of the raid was clear, Meyer said, per the Kansas Reflector: "Mind your own business or we're going to step on you." With the equipment gone, Meyer said he's not sure how the weekly's staff will be able to send the next edition to press on Tuesday night.

The Record had received information about Kari Newell, a restaurant owner, having been convicted of drunken driving and continuing to drive without a license. Its reporters were expelled from a public session with Republican US Rep. Jake LaTurner, though he had invited them, by Newell last week, which the Record published a story about here. The officers brought a search warrant with them for the raid, which involved the City of Marion's entire police force, but it seems to be in violation of federal law—which requires law enforcement officers to subpoena materials, not just seize them. The magistrate judge who signed the warrant did not answer a request by the Reflector for comment. Nor did the police chief immediately respond to a request by Courthouse News Service.

Police went to Meyer's home at the same time with the warrant, which lists allegations of identity theft and unlawful use of a computer. The executive director of the Kansas Press Association said the police raid is unprecedented in the state. "An attack on a newspaper office through an illegal search is not just an infringement on the rights of journalists but an assault on the very foundation of democracy and the public's right to know," Emily Bradbury said. "This cannot be allowed to stand." Meyer, whose journalism career has included nearly a half-century at the Milwaukee Journal and the University of Illinois, said he's never heard of such a raid. "It's going to have a chilling effect on us even tackling issues," he said, and "a chilling effect on people giving us information." (More journalism stories.)

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