Kansas newspaper publisher files lawsuit over police raid

Washington — The publisher of a small Kansas newspaper that police raided in August is suing officials involved in the act, accusing them of violating the newspaper’s First Amendment rights.

When police in Marion, Kansas, raided the newsroom of the Marion County Record and the home of its publisher, Eric Meyer, the move was met with widespread condemnation from press freedom groups.

Meyer said he wanted to file the lawsuit because the raid on his weekly newspaper has major implications for press freedom across the United States.

“We’re the plaintiffs in this, but really, the plaintiff is American democracy,” Meyer told VOA. “They’re trying to silence criticism — silence anything other than the voice they want to hear. And we just can’t let that stand. We wouldn’t be doing our duty as Americans.”

During the August 11 raid, security footage showed police seizing computers, cell phones, hard drives and other devices from the newsroom. And in the Meyer household, footage reveals Eric’s 98-year-old mother, Joan, co-owner of the newspaper, confronting police during the raid on their home.

The lawsuit, which Meyer filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Kansas, also alleges that the stress of the raid caused his mother’s death the day after.

After the raid, Joan “repeatedly told her son that her entire life was meaningless if this is what Marion had become,” the lawsuit said.

The nearly 130-page lawsuit, which Meyer said took some time to put together, is the fourth filed by current and former newspaper staffers over the incident.

Police defended the raid, saying they were responding to an identity theft complaint.

Meyer disagrees.

“This was an attempt by people to weaponize the criminal justice system for personal gains,” he said.

The newspaper was investigating the police chief who led the raid. Gideon Cody eventually resigned in October after body camera footage revealed him rifling through files about himself.

“It’s clear as anything that we didn’t do anything wrong,” said Meyer, who estimates the case won’t be resolved until 2026.  

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