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News organizations across country condemn raid of Kansas newspaper office

Marion County Recorder Kansas Reflector.jpeg
Posted at 8:34 PM, Aug 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-14 11:14:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — News organizations from across the country, including The E.W. Scripps Company on behalf of KSHB-TV and KMCI-TV, have collectively sent a letter to the police chief of Marion, Kansas, condemning a raid Friday at the newspaper offices of the Marion County Record.

The letter, dated Aug. 13, was authored by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In addition to The E.W. Scripps Company, The Associated Press, Cable News Network, Inc., CBS News, Dow Jones & Company, Inc., NBCUniversal News Group Inc., the New York Times Company and The Washington Post, among others, co-signed the letter.

LINK | Police, sheriff’s deputies execute search warrant of Kansas newspaper

Addressed to Marion, Kansas, Chief of Police Gideon Cody, the group wrote to condemn the raid.

LINK | Police chief who assisted in newspaper raid previously captain in Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department

“Newsroom searches and seizures are among the most intrusive actions law enforcement can take with respect to the free press, and the most potentially suppressive of free speech by the press and the public,” the letter read.

LINK | Read the letter

News of Friday’s raid started to circulate widely Friday night following an article published by the Kansas Reflector, an independent media outlet operating in the state.

The owner and co-publisher of the paper, Eric Meyer, told the Kansas Reflector that authorities had taken electronic news gathering equipment, work product and other material as part of a search warrant at the offices of the paper, which are located about an hour north of Wichita.

Meyer said authorities were executing a search warrant approved by Marion County Magistrate Judge Laura Viar.

In an e-mail reply Sunday to KSHB 41 I-Team reporter Jessica McMaster, Cody wrote that while he couldn’t release further information, once he could, the public would see that his officers’ actions would be vindicated.

Cody referenced an exemption in the federal Privacy Protection Act he believed allowed his officers to perform the search warrant.

In the news organizations’ letter, attorneys say Cody’s rationale is “inapplicable.” Two additional exemptions possible within the act also did not “appear to apply,” according to the letter.

“In short, the search warrant directed at the Marion County Record was significantly overbroad, improperly intrusive and possibly in violation of federal law,” the letter explains.

The letter closed with a demand to return seized equipment and records, purge any records in the department created as part of the execution of the search warrant and launch an independent review of the incident.