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  • Last modified 282 days ago (Aug. 17, 2023)

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How dare they

As A journalist, I’m incensed by government violating the First Amendment by raiding a constitutionally protected newsroom.

As a citizen, I’m incensed by government violating the Fourth Amendment by searching for things it could have obtained simply by asking — particularly when the only way it knew about them was because the target had revealed them and offered, without any response, to cooperate.

As a taxpayer and a resident, I’m incensed by government wasting huge sums on drawn-out simultaneous raids involving every officer available for a supposed crime that, if true, was nowhere near the level for which such operations are reserved.

Irregularities incense me more. Officials waited until days after the search to file affidavits that warrants supposedly were based on. Unlike reporters covering the story, police listened to only one person, who simultaneously spewed lies at a city council meeting. The police chief and perhaps even the mayor had ample motive to have manipulated this shameless and all-to-frequent example of bullying for personal or political ends.

As a human being and particularly as a son, however, the most incensing aspect of Friday’s illegal raids on the Record newsroom, the home of the Record’s owners, and the home of Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel was the impact on innocent people — one in particular.

How dare these people to intrude on the home of a 98-year-old woman — her safe haven of personal space for nearly 70 years — and transform her last 26 hours on earth into a holy hell that so stressed her that her body simply gave up on a world that seemed to have forgotten her decades of cheerful service to anyone and everyone and allow bullies to try to score cheap points.

Traumatized by police standing in her living room for hours, watching her every move and photographing confidential financial papers unrelated to their search, left her in tears, muttering: “Where are all the good people? Isn’t there anyone left to stand up to Gestapo tactics?”

She refused to eat. She refused to go to sleep. She repeated to herself, well into the morning, “This is going to be the death of me,” and prophetically it was.

I tried to cheer her by saying that bullies often get their comeuppance when they go too far, but her reply was fatalistic: “I won’t be alive to see it.”

She died a few minutes thereafter, collapsing mid-sentence, of sudden cardiac arrest, something she had absolutely no history of.

Rather than spend her last 26 hours reveling in her great-grandson starting college, watching squirrels frolic in her gigantic mulberry tree, or playing along with contestants on “Jeopardy!” she died thinking her life had been wasted, that the world had turned its back on her values.

She might now rest easier seeing the outpouring of support that her beloved newspaper and the values she espoused have received, but last days on earth shouldn’t be filled with pain caused not by illness but by a sick system of government.

The greatest memorial those left to mourn her could provide would be courage and resolve to once and for all rid our community of such people.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Aug. 17, 2023

 

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