Numerous current and former Capital Gazette employees marched in Annapolis on the Independence Day, taking a break from routinely covering the event.
The decision to walk the parade was to honor their fallen friends and also to let their hometown know the despite being struck with the worst of tragedies, their local newspaper was not going to give up.
“You’ll recognize us from our vaguely lost expressions. We don’t think we have a banner or T-shirts, although we’re looking around. We might have a few hats. It will be unusual for us to walk together in the same rough direction if we’re being totally honest here. The news staff of The Capital feels out of place being part of the event rather than on the sidelines taking notes or producing video,” the staff wrote in a heartfelt op-ed ahead of the march. “Here’s why we’ve decided to do this: for you.”
“We’re hurting, but we know Annapolis and Anne Arundel County are, too. It’s so difficult to grasp that our community was the site of a mass shooting; that Annapolis has joined the names synonymous with abhorrent violence,” the op-ed continued.
The march comes as the Capital Gazette team still grieves from the loss of five staffers at the hands of a gunman who opened fire in their newsroom. The shooting has been touted as the deadliest day for American journalism since 9/11.
The suspect, Jarrod W. Ramos, apparently had long standing animosity towards the organization over an article.
In 2012, he sued the newspaper and then-columnist Eric Hartley for defamation. The lawsuit came after the paper published a story that featured a criminal harassment case against Ramos. The story was published after he pleaded guilty to the accusations.
The newspaper’s editor, Rick Hutzell, said the decision to walk the parade may be unconventional but it was the right decision, since this was “not just our tragedy.” He said the Capital Gazette staff had to stand alongside the town’s people to show that they will carry on.
“The faces I saw and the friends I saw convinced me it was the right decision to be out there, and to be with our wider family, and it felt good,” Hutzell told The Baltimore Sun.
Staff photographer Paul Gillespie said the support from the community fate the horrible shooting has been incredible.
“We lost a big chunk of our newsroom and our hearts. You know, you can’t fill that hole, but these guys help make us feel a little bit better,” he said.
VIDEO: Caught up with #CapitalGazette photographer Paul Gillespie after the parade.— George Solis (@GeorgeSolisWJZ) July 5, 2018
“We lost a big chunk of our newsroom and our hearts. You know, you can’t fill that hole, these guys help us feel a little bit better,” he told me. pic.twitter.com/Bmqztoni3L
The op-ed ended with a hopeful message, “We’ll be on West Street and Main Street because we want our readers and our community to see that we believe things will, eventually, be OK again. Eventually.”
“Have a glorious Fourth,” it said.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS / Leah Millis