98-year-old Kansas Newspaper Owner Makes First Amendment Stand As Deputies Raid Her Home – Dies The Next Day

 August 23, 2023

The 98-year-old co-owner of a historic Kansas newspaper, Joan Meyer, can be seen on video in a fiery exchange with law enforcement, captured the day before her death. The video shows Meyer scolding officers raiding her home. The warrants were subsequently withdrawn.

On Tuesday, Eric Meyer, her son, who is the Marion County Record Publisher, made the clip public after a state official said that, an online search cited, as a reason for the raid, was not a crime. Joan Meyer , during the raid, says at the start of the minute-long clip, wearing a robe and slippers and standing behind a walker-

"Don't you touch any of that stuff," …"Ma'am," [one officer begins, before she cuts him off barking] "This is my house!"…Get out of my house!'

-Joan Meyer

Provided by Eric Meyer, this camera footage shows his mother, Joan Meyer, ordering police officers to get out of her house as they searched it Aug. 11, 2023, in Marion, Kansas. In the clip Joan Meyer gestures at officers in her living room, ordering them to get out of her house. One officer asks, "How many computers do you have in the house, ma'am?" …. Meyer replies, pushing past him with her walker and replies-

"I'm not gonna tell you,"… "Get out of my way."

-Joan Meyer

Reportedly her death ensued after police served search warrants on her home and office, pushed past her to searched her home and office during an investigation - which was later dropped by prosecutors. She appears, at the time of the raid, on newly unveiled surveillance video - shouting at officers to get out of her living room.

Meyers son has blamed his mother's death on undue stress caused by the raids, which he calls "illegal" and has likened to "Gestapo tactics." Definitely a First Amendment concern, Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey, withdrew the search warrants and ordered Marion Police to return all seized items, because he found no legal basis for the case against the paper or its staff.

Reportedly, Bernie Rhodes, an attorney for the Meyers, and their newspaper noted that before she died, Joan described the police department's behavior as "Hitler tactics," and he stated-

"It is not a crime in America to be a reporter”

-Bernie Rhodes, Attorney for Meyers and The Marion County Publisher

The raids on Meyer's home and the Record's newsroom came after reporters looked into allegations that a local shop owner named Kari Newell had allegedly drove a car, while her license was suspended for a prior DUI. Additionally, the paper had also been investigating allegations about the city's new police chief, Gideon Cody, and a claim that the department turned a blind eye to Newell driving without a license.

As a result of these investigations by the paper, they were accused of identity theft in researching files on the internet. They had not published an article on Newell's DUI case, prior to the raid, and reporters were still researching the case and hesitant to trust the initial source due to a potential conflict of interest, according to an editorial published after Meyer's death.

So essentially, with a warrant in hand, for what proved to be a false allegation, police intruded on the 98-year-old Meyer, to look for computer information, regarding an alleged theft of personal information, that was a matter of public record. Meyer is seen trying to get the police to leave and was markedly agitated in the video.

Police pushed past an elderly woman in a walker, to search her home, while she objected vehemently - only later to have the warrant pulled by the County Attorney. What a horrible situation for someone of her age – to be violated by authorities while she tried to protect her First Amendment rights.

Meyer was a member of the press there in Marion, as co-owner of the paper. Reportedly, the Marion County Record was founded in 1874 by E.W. Hoch, whose family owned the newspaper for more than a century before Meyer and her husband bought it in 1998, to save it from takeover by a corporate chain. Her husband Bill Meyer had worked with the paper since 1948. He died in 2006.

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”

-John F. Kennedy
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