The police chief of Marion, Kansas, has been suspended after he ordered raids on the office of a small, local newspaper and the home of its publisher.
Mayor David Mayfield suspended Chief Gideon Cody indefinitely on Thursday, according to multiple reports. Officials have not publicly provided a reason for the suspension but it is widely believed to be related to the tremendous media pressure that followed the searches.
Media outlets that have condemned the raids include the New York Times and the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post.
Chief Cody executed a search warrant in August on the Marion County Record, which is family owned and has a circulation of about 4,000. In addition, a search was authorized for the home of its publisher, Eric Meyer. The searches were reportedly related to an investigation into how the newspaper obtained a document about a local restaurant owner.
The newspaper’s possession of the document may have constituted identity theft and computer crimes, according to reports.
Meyer claimed the paper did nothing wrong, saying the document had been obtained from a confidential source. He has stated he believes the raid was actually retaliation for the paper’s investigation of Cody’s previous police work before being hired in Marion.
Mayor Mayfield was recently quoted in the newspaper saying the raids make it look “like we’re a bunch of hicks now.”
The day after the raids, the newspaper’s co-owner, Joan Meyer, 98, died, with her son alleging it was related in part to the shock caused by the raid on their home.
The raids have now become a rallying cry for numerous media outlets, who claim the searches constitute a violation of the First Amendment.
The left-wing NPR reported that the raids appear to be a violation of federal law, citing the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, which broadly prohibits law enforcement officials from searching for or seizing information from reporters.
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