Police Chief Gideon Cody, proud to emulate
They’re coming for you next: For his part of a Gestapo-like raid in August of the town’s newspaper, the police chief of the town of Marion in Kansas, Gideon Cody, was suspended from his job on September 30, 2023 by the town’s mayor, Dave Mayfield.
Cody’s suspension is a reversal for the mayor, who previously said he would wait for results from a state police investigation before taking action. Vice-Mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided Aug. 11, praised Cody’s suspension as “the best thing that can happen to Marion right now” as the central Kansas town of about 1,900 people struggles to move forward under the national spotlight.
At the moment is not clear whether Cody’s suspension is with or without pay.
This is a followup on a previous blacklist column, posted in August when that raid occurred. The raid, which not only included the newspaper’s offices but the homes the town’s vice mayor, the newspaper’s 98-year-old owner, Joan Meyer (resulting in her death the next day from a heart attack), and one reporter.
As noted then, the raid was uncalled for on numerous levels. First, the search was an a priori attack and fundamentally illegal based on American jurisprudence. No crime by the newspaper had been committed. The alleged illegal release of the prvileged private information of a local restaurant owner, Kari Newell, was done by someone else, and when that information was sent to the newspaper it immediately contacted the police to report the possible crime. It did not publish that information, and in fact made it clear in public it would not.
Second, it appeared from evidence that chief Cody was simply acting as the hired thug of that restaurant owner, and might even have had his own personal reasons to raid the files of the newspaper and the vice mayor, to protect his own interests.
Cody’s suspension is only part of the pushback taking place. Almost immediately after the search the county’s prosecutor withdrew the search warrant, noting there was insufficient evidence to support it and thus returned all the seized items. The reporter whose home was searched subsequently sued Cody in federal court.
Marion County Record reporter Debbie Gruver filed a federal lawsuit against Cody last week [early September] accusing the chief of violating her constitutional rights by obtaining an “unreasonable and unlawful” search warrant and seizing her personal property, according to the complaint.
Gruver accuses Cody in the suit of targeting her because he knew she had been investigating allegations of misconduct against the chief during his time working for the Kansas City Police Department, although the newspaper has not published those allegations. “Such acts were done by Chief Cody in retaliation for Ms. Gruver exercising her protected rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as a reporter for the Record, which protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” the lawsuit states.
Meanwhile, the judge who signed the search warrant for the raid, Laura Viar, has had a complaint filed against her by a local citizen.
The complaint requests the Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct to review “Viar’s mental capacity in her decision to seemingly circumvent federal and state law” when she signed off on the search warrant for the newspaper office, according to a copy of the complaint provided by Strahler.
That review is presently scheduled for November 3, 2023.
All told, it appears that in this case at least, the individuals who abused their power are facing personal consequences for their actions. If only this was the case in all the blacklist and censorship stories from the past three years. Usually the wrong-doers go unpunished. If any monies are paid to the injured, the state or employer of the wrong-doer pays, not the wrong-doer. Also, it it rare for any of these perpetrators to be fired. They keep their job, and can thus are free to find other ways to abuse their power.
Thus, wrongs are committed, but there is no justice.
It appears however that in Marion, Kansas, justice will be served. Kudos to the citizens in that small town, who appear willing to do what is necessary to right a wrong.