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Active Mourning

Annapolis is surpassing tragedy with music, memory and money

Gerald Fischman. Rob Hiaasen. John McNamara. Rebecca Smith. Wendi Winters.

            Thursday June 28, 2018, a grudge-holding gunman attacked the Capital Gazette office, killing five people, injuring two and traumatizing thousands.

            How does a city mourn such a tragic loss? How do we surmount the violence and fear? What does it take?

            Annapolis knows.

            Friday June 29: Governor Larry Hogan ordered the Maryland flag lowered to half-staff as a sign of respect for the five slain Capital Gazette employees.

            That same evening, two vigils were held to honor those lost. The first was held at the Annapolis Mall, right across from the Capital Gazette’s offices at 888 Bestgate Road. The second began at Lawyers Mall. Mourners marched down Main Street together with that morning’s paper in hand.

            Journalists assembled, pens poised to fight back, and delivered the news of the shooting to the entire nation.

            Annapolis artist and musician Aaron Yealdhall, distraught by the shooting, created a badge to remind Annapolis and the world how important the freedom of the press is. The badge features the famous State Capitol building, nestled into an anchor. The bold letters read in blue: Press On Annapolis. He posted the artwork to Facebook writing, “I was torn up inside with a feeling of needing to do something about this tragedy.” He went on to ask if anyone would want a sticker or T-shirt, hoping to donate the proceeds to the paper.

            Over the next days and weeks, just about everybody word reached did the best they could imagine to, like Yealdhall, “do something about this tragedy.”

            Saturday June 30: Yealdhall created a Shopify page for supporters to buy merchandise to benefit the victims.

            Tuesday July 3: Yealdhall’s design skyrocketed to more than 1,000 orders.

            Wednesday July 4: Employees at The Capital, past and present, marched in the Annapolis Fourth of July Parade to show the nation — even the world — that they will persevere.

            Thursday July 5: Journalists around the nation stopped to honor the five dead Capital staffers with a moment of silence. At 2:33pm, journalists pushed the pause button for a collective minute in solidarity with their brothers and sisters of the press. Newsrooms from Honolulu to New York City stood together, cloaked in quiet. “A moment of silence for our fallen colleagues at @capgaznews,” The Detroit News tweeted. “May They Rest In Peace #AnnapolisStrong.”

            Wednesday July 11: City Mayor Gavin Buckley gave Annapolis an outlet to grieve and heal together. The concert, originally set for September, was moved to July 28 — exactly one month after the newsroom attack.

            “Sadly, our country’s attention will soon shift from this event that has forever changed our city,” said Buckley. “This event is for the journalists, for whatever they need to help them heal.”

            All the proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit a fund set up for the victims and survivors of the shooting. “We hope this benefit concert will be a festival about love — something we all need right now.” Buckley said.

            The concert, dubbed Annapolis Rising: A Benefit for The Capital Gazette and Free Press, features Waldorf natives Good Charlotte. Twin brothers Benji and Joel Madden remember going to Annapolis in their late teens to pursue their music, so they have a strong connection to the city and its community.

            “The first band that stepped up was Good Charlotte,” Buckley said.

            Benefit organizers anticipate a few thousand people will come out in support of the city’s journalists. There will be food and drink trucks, and downtown’s many restaurants will be open.

            The benefit will begin around noon and continue late into the evening. Between the performers, guest speakers from the journalism community will pay tribute to the five dead staffers. Speakers and performers will greet the audience from a stage on Calvert Street between West and Northwest streets with the Maryland State House in the background. Local bands Dublin 5, Clones of Funk, The Great Heights Band, Higher Hands, Skribe and more are on the lineup. There will also be a medal ceremony for the first responders who arrived to the scene after the shooting.

            Wednesday July 18: Comedy Central’s Jordan Klepper and Washington Post editor Marty Baron announced they will speak at the Annapolis Rising concert to show support for free press and the victims.

            Thursday July 19: Downtown Hope in Annapolis opened a reflection room inside the church for people to mourn and remember. The softly lit room at 255 West Street features a simple paragraph on the wall titled Letters To Our Town. On a single desk, nestled beneath the mural, sit pens, paper, paints and brushes — creative tools to help the people of Annapolis write, pray, sit, cry, or remember.

            Monday July 23: The funds for the victims and families hit over $600,000. Over 5,300 people from donated to the GoFundMe page, bought Press On apparel or gave directly to the paper.

            “Free press is so important, and it’s our job to protect that media,” Buckley stated. “The message I got from the victims families and survivors is to keep the story going.”

            Annapolis fully intends to keep this story going.

            Gerald Fischman. Rob Hiaasen. John McNamara. Rebecca Smith. Wendi Winters.

            Please remember their names.

 

Annapolis Rising Music Festival: July 28, noon-10pm, $30 w/age discounts (only 3,000 tickets sold): www.annapolis.gov; www.ramsheadonstage.com.