On Monday, June 28, 2021 at 11 a.m., dignitaries and family and friends gathered to dedicate the “Guardians of the First Amendment” Memorial in Annapolis in remembrance of the five lives lost in a mass shooting three years ago at The Capital newspaper offices in Annapolis. Those lost were Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters.
The Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial, at the corner of Compromise and Newman Streets in historic downtown Annapolis was created to honor the freedoms established by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the lives lost at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis 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 on City property.
Author David Simon of HBO’s “The Wire,” delivered the keynote remarks. Survivors of the shooting, journalists and family members of the victims attended and delivered remarks. Carl Snowden, convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders, emceed the event. Elected officials including Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, County Executive Steuart Pittman and Mayor Gavin Buckley also spoke. Author Laura Lippman dedicated the memorial.
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.
“Mayor Buckley and County Executive Pittman are to be commended for creating a memorial that will remind future generations of the importance of the First Amendment,” said Carl Snowden, convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders. “The journalists who died three years ago were guardians of this precious right and this memorial will stand the test of time and their lives were not in vain.”
“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. “Today, it feels right to be together in remembrance of our loss and in our continuing and shared grief. We are gathered to dedicate this memorial, which I hope you’ll return to and use as a place of reflection to honor the Guardians of the First Amendment: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.”