September 24, 2023


Donald Craven: Illinois Press Association condemns raid on Marion County Record office

The offices of the Marion County Record sit across from the Marion County Courthouse in Marion, Kan., Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Marion, Kansas. Law enforcement officers raided the newspaper office and seized computers and employee cell phones in what Editor and Publisher Eric Meyer believes is an attempt to intimidate the newspaper as it examines local issues, including the police chief's background.

Editor’s note: The following is a letter Illinois Press Association President and CEO Don Craven sent to Marion (Kansas) police Chief Gideon Cody regarding his department’s raid last week on the Marion County Record newspaper and its publisher’s home.

Dear Chief Cody:

On behalf of the Illinois Press Association, I write to join the chorus of journalism associations around the nation that are outraged by your actions to raid the office of the Marion County Record and the home of its co-­owners. The correspondence from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and others very accurately establishes that the actions of your office are violative of very well-established press freedoms.

Your actions, and the unfortunate death of Mrs. Meyer, caused me to recall the story of Elijah Lovejoy, also a victim of an effort to silence an American newspaper. If you have not yet done so, I urge you to learn this bit of American history. Mr. Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob, while defending his anti-slavery newspaper in Alton, Illinois. The mob tossed Lovejoy’s press (actually three of them) into the Mississippi River. One of those presses sat in the office of the Alton Telegraph as a reminder to all. A monument to Lovejoy was erected in the city.

While the actions of your office leading up to the raid are of grave concern, your inability or unwillingness to explain your actions compounds the aggravation. Obtaining and executing a warrant, without the need for an underlying affidavit, and conducting a search of a newsroom and the publishers’ home should be unthinkable. Overbroad. Chilling. Intrusive into newsgathering. All the descriptors used by the courts over the years are brought to mind.

And to think this was brought about – as best we can tell – by the newspaper being advised of a public record of a driving conviction of a local resident. Under what theory is possession of a public court record a crime?

You and your office should apologize to Mr. Meyer and his staff, the newspaper, and to your community for your egregious actions. You can’t fix this, you can’t hide from it. You should own it, apologize, and resign.


Donald M. Craven