Dear Editor, I rarely have written an opinion to the Navasota Examiner and have only done so in the past referencing our border concerns and sometimes with concerns about our local public safety issues. Other than that, I have never had a problem when asked by the media regarding topics, giving my honest and professional answers on topics that the press needed to know as journalists to do their duty to keep the public informed. The press has timelines, deadlines and their respective superiors putting pressure on reporters to get the news timely and factually to report. I can appreciate that and have always felt that my duty is to keep the press honestly informed to keep the public informed.
Granted there are occasions that due to the sensitivity of a case that I have had to let the press know that I can’t release that information until it is the proper time not to compromise as investigation and then pledge to inform them as soon as possible. I can’t ever recollect any reporter not respecting that and of course the press has in turn been a valued partner in assisting law enforcement in many cases of spreading news to aid in investigations.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a sacred document that constitutes with our Bill of Rights to allow among other things the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Law enforcement officials are charged within their duties to protect that right and give the press and people that freedom and opportunity.
The situation in the town of Marion, Kansas, on 11 August 2023 where the local police raided the Marion County Record newspaper office, and the home of the newspaper owners appears to have been an attack on our foundation of democracy and the press. What is truly sad and tragic is that the co-owner, 98-year-old Mrs. Joan Meyer died the next day possibly with the stress and trauma of this raid being a contributing factor. I am speechless and disgusted with the despicable conduct of law enforcement and the tactics that were used in this case and I will say that the damage done here will have ramifications in our future that citizens should take note of.
Marion Kansas Police Chief Gideon Cody should hang his head in shame and resign from his position for allowing and participating in this incident of government overstepping their authority. The Sheriff of Marion County Kansas, Jeff Soyez was on the scene and he and his Deputies participated. Sheriff Soyez should have stepped up and blocked this obvious miscarriage. The Marion County District Court Magistrate Judge Laura Viar should have some reflections on what happened and take some responsibility for authorizing this search warrant. Thank goodness the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Marion County, County Attorney Joel Ensey, made the decision to withdraw the search warrant and returned the equipment seized and, hopefully, sanity can return to the law.
I did some research on Marion, Kansas and found it to be a town in Marion County, population 1922, in a county with a population of 11,823. The Marion County Record is a weekly newspaper founded in 1869. This sounds a bit like the history of our local newspaper, The Examiner’s history in our local town of Navasota in our County of Grimes.
This is just my “Humble Opinion” of the situation. Don Sowell Grimes County Sheriff