Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial – Annapolis, Maryland - Atlas Obscura

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Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial

This memorial honors five journalists who were killed in a mass shooting in 2018, and affirms the importance of the first amendment. 

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Five granite pillars stand in a brick plaza in Annapolis, Maryland, as a memorial to five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper who were killed in 2018. It honors Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters, who have been memorialized as protectors of free speech and guardians of the first amendment.

On the afternoon of June 28, 2018, a man appeared at the Capital Gazette offices wielding a pump-action shotgun. After shooting out the glass door, the gunman opened fire on the newspaper’s employees, killing five people and injuring two more. The shooter was identified as Jarrod Ramos, who had unsuccessfully attempted to sue the Capital Gazette for defamation. In September 2021, Ramos was sentenced to life in prison.

On the third anniversary of the tragedy, the Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial was dedicated in a ceremony in Newman Park on Compromise Street in downtown Annapolis. According to WYPR, Phil Davis, a survivor of the shooting, spoke at the ceremony, saying “I want Wendy, Rob, Gerald, Rebecca, and John to be remembered with words like guardians. It will give their names weight, the weight they deserve.”

The memorial consists of five pillars that represent the five journalists who were killed in the shooting, with the text of the first amendment engraved into a semicircular wall. The first amendment engraving is flanked by plaques that include the names of several state, county, and city officials, a description of the memorial, and a bronze reproduction of the front page of the Capital Gazette from the day after the attack.

Winters was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal for her heroism in rushing the shooter in order to distract the gunman and save the lives of several colleagues.

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