Kansas State hosted Eric Meyer, editor and owner of the Marion County Record, in Kedzie Hall Friday to speak to journalism students about the police raid on the Record which took place Aug. 11.
Eric Meyer said police seized documents, computers, cell phones and personal items from the Record’s newsroom and the homes of Joan Meyer, former co-owner of the Record and Eric’s mother, and Joan Herbel, vice mayor of Marion. The day after the raid, 98-year-old Joan Meyer died because of the stress of the situation, Eric Meyer said.
“It was sort of a coordinated raid where everyone came in at the same time using encrypted radio,” Eric Meyer said. “They came in, they made us wait for a long time, close to three hours. They threw the staff out of the newspaper office.”
Eric Meyer said Marion police were searching for a document a reporter at the Record had obtained legally.
“We’d gotten a document about a week earlier — and we actually told the police we got it — that was explaining how a local restaurateur didn’t really have a valid license because of an old DUI,” Eric Meyer said. “We tracked down that it was a legit document.”
Eric Meyer said the police did not have probable cause to seize the Record’s property.
“It was a lengthy battle to figure out what had happened,” Eric Meyer said. “We went over to the court and asked for the probable cause affidavit. They said it didn’t exist, which would make it [the raid] illegal.”
Eric Meyer said the Record will continue to operate because journalists have an obligation to speak up about injustices, even when pressured by those in positions of power.
“Democracy isn’t neat,” Eric Meyer said. “It is not a tidy little system. … Democracy is diversity, and it’s about not only listening to people of different views and different needs, but also speaking up about them and speaking out about them, and to many extents the newspaper has become the voice for a group of people who are reluctant to speak out on their own.”
Eric Meyer said local newspapers like the Record are important because they report the real and negative stories larger publications avoid.
“One thing about modern society is … everything’s supposed to be smooth and nice and nobody ever questions anything,” Eric Meyer said. “It’s a wonderful world if everybody is honest, if everybody is true to what they’re talking about and really cares about me. But if it’s not, that’s the type of situation that leads to an Adolf Hitler or a Vladamir Putin … and we’re sitting here because we decided we didn’t want to be a part of a chain.”
Eric Meyer said he hopes the police raid on the Record will inspire journalists and community members to push for change.
“Social change happens when people hear stories they can relate to,” Eric Meyer said. “If you don’t believe it, think about our attitudes toward various social issues. … Peoples’ attitudes have changed once they know that there are human beings involved and what those real human beings are.”