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Mike’s Musings: Raid on newspaper office tramples first amendment rights

I received a phone call a couple days ago about the Marion MI newspaper office having been raided by police. Being the owner, I was a bit perplexed, because I knew of no such raid. The caller, however, was adamant that it had taken place.
After calling around I was able to discern that the Marion newspaper that was raided was in Marion Kansas and was called The Marion Record, not the Marion Press. It is a tragic story that in many minds has trampled first amendment rights.
Let me digress. Last week the Marion, Kansas newspaper was raided by the local police department. All officers- seven I believe, were dispatched to the office, and were told to overturn records and take computers and other equipment necessary to publish the newspaper. It was a horrible display of entitled cops trampling on the rights of a few staffers charged with providing news to the community.
What really pissed this writer off was the result of this raid. The newspaper’s 98-year-old co-owner, who was known to be in great health, couldn’t withstand the angst and pressure created by the raid according to her co-owner son. She died soon after.
In this age of social media dominance, many of us are concerned about our first amendment rights. Just to review here is what the First Amendment says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The cops in Marion Kansas, who apparently don’t understand what our Constitutional rights are as citizens were intervening and taking sides in a spat between a local restaurant owner who had been charged with a DUI and the newspaper which had been publishing negative information about her.
Eric Meyer, co-owner and publisher of the newspaper, said police were motivated by a confidential source who leaked sensitive documents to the newspaper, and the message was clear: “Mind your own business or we’re going to step on you.”
Maybe, and probably I don’t have the whole story, but this appears to be a gross injustice. There are so many remedies to this situation, other than the police chief demanding every available officer on his force to raid an aging newspaper. There are remedies through the court system if the restaurant owner feels she was slandered or libeled. There are remedies like all parties involved sitting down and mediating a solution.
Raiding is not an option or shouldn’t be. I know it’s proper in some circles nowadays to trash the media. However, local media – those that print the meat and potatoes of the town they serve, work very hard to be objective and fair. In the position of editor or publisher, you will never please everyone. It is a fact of life all of us in this business deal with.
I hope we all stand up to condemn this raid on a small hometown newspaper. Condemn and fire the police chief that made this happen. Reprimand the police officers that went along with this. And most importantly remember the woman who ran this newspaper for dozens of years, 98-year-old Joan Meyer, who’s health failed her a weekend after the raid.

3 Replies to “Mike’s Musings: Raid on newspaper office tramples first amendment rights

  1. I live in Marion County Kansas .
    Marion is the County Seat .
    Ordinarily it is a quaint town and the majority of residents are really good people .
    The police department and Sheriff’s Department are generally friendly and serve well as they should .
    The big city cop hired a few months ago as police chief tried his big city ways in a small town and it didn’t work .

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