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SPJ commits to Legal Defense Fund assistance after Marion County Record newsroom raid


Claire Regan, SPJ National President, cregan@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is deeply concerned about the raid on Friday of the Marion County Record newsroom in Kansas. SPJ is offering help covering up to $20,000 in legal fees for the newsroom, and condemns this brazen action taken by law enforcement to stop the flow of information.

“By all accounts, the raid was an egregious attack on freedom of the press, the First Amendment and all the liberties we hold dear as journalists in this great country,” SPJ National President Claire Regan said during an emergency board meeting on Sunday to approve funding to the newspaper. “From the moment they learned about the raid, SPJ members have been speaking up and stepping forward to demand justice, hold the responsible accountable and support the Record staff in their recovery.”

The SPJ Board of Directors unanimously approved allocating up to $20,000 from the Legal Defense Fund to assist the Marion County Record with legal costs. SPJ also joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 33 other news media and press freedom organizations in a letter to Marion Chief of Police Gideon Cody condemning the raid.

“In short, the search warrant directed at the Marion County Record was significantly overbroad, improperly intrusive, and possibly in violation of federal law,” the letter states. “Again, and crucially, we urge you to immediately return any seized equipment and records to the newspaper; purge any such records retained by your department; and initiate a full, independent, and transparent review into your department’s actions.”

“The newsroom is sacrosanct; interrupting its operation is a threat to democracy,” Regan said. “SPJ offers its full support to the staff of the Marion County Record following this outrageous attack on freedom of the press.”

The SPJ Legal Defense Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. The committee works throughout the year raising funds for LDF. More information about the Fund can be found here.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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