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IRE voices solidarity with Marion County Record after "disturbing" police raid

Investigative Reporters and Editors stands in solidarity with the Marion County Record in defense of the First Amendment after the Kansas newspaper’s office and the home of its 98-year-old co-owner were raided by local law enforcement Aug. 11.

“The IRE Board is deeply disturbed by reports of the raid on the Marion County Record,” said Board President Brian M. Rosenthal, an investigative reporter at The New York Times. “Journalists play a vital role in informing the public and exposing wrongdoing, and this brazen attempt to interfere with that work should outrage everybody who believes in democracy.”

In raiding the office of the Marion County Record and the home of Joan Meyer, police officers and sheriff’s deputies seized all computers, other office equipment and personal cell phones as well as searched through personal documents.

“It was an unconscionable, illegal action by law enforcement against journalists who were just doing their jobs for their community,” said IRE Executive Director Diana Fuentes.

The search warrant was signed by a Marion County magistrate judge, but the Marion County Record reported that the office where the affidavit supporting the warrant is required to be filed did not have a record of it.

The Marion County Record in Marion, Kansas, is a family-owned paper that started in 1869. It will publish this week despite the raid.

“We are absolutely going to print,” publisher Eric Meyer said Sunday. “I don't care if we have to get a rubber stamp and notepads, we are going to print.”

Meyer’s mother, Joan Meyer, died the day after the raid. Eric Meyer said his mother was in good health for her age and believes her death was a result of the stress caused by the raid on her home.

IRE has received emails and calls from members asking what IRE can do to help the newspaper and staff.

Fuentes spoke with Eric Meyer on Sunday, extending condolences on his mother’s death and offering help — people, equipment, starting a legal fund, whatever is necessary. Meyer said he appreciates the offer of help but at this point doesn't need assistance.

“What we need is time,” he said, noting the priority for him and his staff is publishing this week’s edition.

Fuentes let him know IRE is ready to help with whatever the paper and staff might need in the coming weeks, months and in the future. IRE will continue to monitor the situation.

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