A Vigil

July 1st, 2018

In the end, after two nightmarish days set off by the mad shooting June 28 in the newsroom of the Annapolis Capital, after countless questions in a score of radio and television interviews, after trying to explain the unexplainable, it was the candlelit vigil down Main Street on Friday night that got to me. As a life-long journalist, I am supposed to be detached from the stories I cover, but this one hit my soul.
The vigil marchers were silent as they headed toward Annapolis’ City Dock. The respectful spectators on the sidewalks barely made a sound.
“Honor the journalists,” said one speaker at the rally of the five who died, of the injured and of those that worked tirelessly to put out a fine Friday edition of the paper under the most difficult of circumstances. In the darkness, the audience applauded and the intimate bond between the people of Annapolis and The Annapolis Capital was palpable.
Speaker Mike Busch, the delegate for Annapolis, spoke of his hometown paper – “The Evening Capital,“ he called it, as it once was known. He said he knew four of the five journalists “who were murdered.” “Murdered,” he repeated, “there is no other way to put it.” He was right.
As a guest columnist who has written in this space for the last three-plus years, I am not a member of the Capital staff, nor can I speak for them. But I’d like to think that I am a distant cousin in the Capital family and certainly I am a colleague.
As such, I fielded dozens of requests Thursday and Friday for interviews from near and far. News organizations called me for comment because editor Rick Hutzell and the surviving staff had rightly decided to devote all their energy into putting out their newspaper. “I’ll let my column speak for me,” Rick explained to me in an email Saturday morning. The “speechless,” nearly blank Capital editorial page on Friday was eloquent in its emptiness.
The breadth of national and international interest in the Annapolis story was remarkable. I got requests for comment from all over the United States, from Canada, the U.K., Australia and Brazil. This assault on journalists and journalism resonated far and wide.
As it happened, Jared Ramos’s attack appeared to be an act of personal vengeance, not partisan politics. He seemed to be settling a score against the newspaper, not scoring points in some ideological debate about “fake news.”
The journalists Ramos killed were not “enemies of the people,” they were “the people.” They were people doing a job that is worthy and protected by the first amendment to the constitution.
May they rest in peace.


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