On Monday, June 28, 2021 at 11 a.m., dignitaries, family and friends will gather in Annapolis in remembrance of the five lives lost at The Capital newspaper three years ago at a mass shooting that was the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history.
Also at the event, the “Guardians of the First Amendment” memorial will be dedicated. The memorial seeks to unite the community, to honor the freedoms established by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and honor Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, and John McNamara, the five journalists and staff who were killed in a mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper on June 28, 2018.
The project is supported by the Caucus of African-American Leaders and was initiated by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee. It is a collaboration between state and local governments as well as community organizations, nonprofits, and individual donors. The Caucus selected the concept, hired the design and construction firm, and secured project funding. The State of Maryland and Anne Arundel County provided grants. The City of Annapolis also provided funding as well as the location along Compromise Street (at Newman Street) in the Historic District in downtown Annapolis.
David Simon of HBO’s “The Wire,” and his wife author Laura Lippman, will be speakers at event. Aside from being well-known for their journalistic and artistic accomplishments, the two are family friends of survivors of the slain journalists. Elected officials, regional journalists and the surviving reporters and staff from The Capital newspaper have also been invited.
The memorial is designed around the theme, “Freedom of the Press.” Situated at street level, visitors first notice the shade of tall oak trees along the perimeter of a plaza. Benches and a curved brick wall invite passersby to step into the space. Five stone pillars represent the five lives lost at the Capital Gazette. The First Amendment and the cover of The Capital newspaper from the day after the shooting are etched into the stone on opposite ends of the edifice of the wall.
“The First Amendment is sacrosanct. Every civil rights gain made in America was because of the First Amendment,” said Carl Snowden, convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders. “The role that journalists have played has been invaluable. We do not consider the press the enemy of the people but guardians of the First Amendment.”
“This memorial will inspire future generations of Annapolis visitors to pause and ponder the sacrifices made by five brave Americans in defense of a newspaper, in defense of a free press, and in defense of the foundation of our democracy,” said County Executive Pittman. “I’d like to thank the Caucus, the state, the City of Annapolis, and all those who helped build this sacred place to remember and honor the life and work of Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, and John McNamara.”
“I want to thank the Caucus, the state, the county, and all the individual contributors for helping us deliver on an Annapolis memorial,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “Our community continues to process their grief from this tragedy. Providing a space for visitors to continue their healing journey, to memorialize Wendi, Rob, Gerald, Rebecca and John, and to have a place to honor their life’s work and the work of journalists around the globe is an appropriate tribute.”