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Kansas newspaper co-owner, 98, dies after ‘in tears’ watching police raid her home

The elderly co-owner of a local Kansas newspaper has died after police raided her home.

Joan Meyer, 98, who owned the Marion County Record with her son Eric, collapsed after being traumatized by police breaking into her home.

The police were accused of behaving like the Gestapo in the raid on the newspaper, which has a circulation of 2,200.

The raid on the owner’s offices and home by five police officers and two sheriff’s deputies has sparked a debate over freedom of the press and the right to free speech under the First Amendment.

According to the paper, Ms. Meyer was “stressed beyond her limits” when police raided her home.

She watched in tears as the officers, armed with a search warrant, took away her computer, internet router and Alexa smart speaker.

Meyer, 69, said his mother, who was previously in good health for her age, was unable to eat or sleep after the raid.

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Eric Meyer, the editor and publisher of the Marion County Record – AP

Police also raided the newspaper’s offices and seized computers and mobile phones belonging to two reporters.

Mr. Meyer told the Kansas Reflector police that “everything we have” has been taken.

He added that in his 20 years with the Milwaukee Journal or 26 years as a journalism lecturer at the University of Illinois, he had never heard of police raiding a newspaper.

“It will have a chilling effect on us even as we address issues,” said Mr Meyer, as well as “a chilling effect on people who give us information”.

The offices of the Marion County Record

The offices of the Marion County Record – AP

It was also condemned by Emily Bradbury, executive director of the Kansas Press Association, who said it was unprecedented.

“An attack on a newspaper office through an illegal search is not just an infringement of journalists’ rights, but an attack on the very foundations of democracy and the public’s right to know,” said Ms Bradbury. “This can’t stand.”

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During the raid, according to the newspaper’s website, Mrs. Meyer tearfully watched as police not only took away her computer…but also searched her son Eric’s personal bank and investment statements.

Mr. Meyer added, “Basically, all law enforcement officers on duty in Marion County, Kansas, came to our offices today and seized our server and employees’ computers and personal cell phones, all because of a story we didn’t publish.”

The raid was triggered by a dispute with a local businesswoman over a story that was not even published.

Local police chief Gideon Cody said: “As much as I’d love to give everyone details of a criminal investigation, I can’t.

“I believe that when the rest of the story is available to the public, the justice system that is being questioned will be vindicated.”

He added: “The Marion Kansas Police Department believes that the fundamental duty of the police is to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all members of the public.

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“This commitment must remain steadfast and unbiased, unaffected by political or media influence, to uphold the principles of justice, equal protection and the rule of law for all in the community.”

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