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'Guardians Of The First Amendment' Memorial Unveiled On Anniversary Of Capital Gazette Newspaper Attack

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- On the three-year anniversary of the mass shooting of the Capital Gazette, the city of Annapolis unveiled a memorial in honor of the five people who were killed that day.

The memorial is called "Guardians of the First Amendment" and has five pillars in honor of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

The pillars rise above the memorial, which also has messages about the importance of protecting the freedom of the press.

It's at street level and visitors will notice the shade of tall oak trees at the perimeter of the plaza. Benches and a curved brick wall will welcome people into the space.

"These are the guardians of the Annapolis community of journalism and these are the members that we have lost," said the Mayor of Annapolis, Gavin Buckley as he listed the names of the victims.

Annapolis dedicated the memorial on the day that brought tragedy to the city and among the speakers was Andrea Chamblee, John Mcnamara's widow.

"I'm here to say I won't be silent. With my voice I will speak for John, I will speak for the families who aren't here. Their freedom of speech has been taken away from them," said Chamblee.

A daughter reminisced about the last time she spoke with her mom. "She loved every part of her job. She didn't do it for the money, but she did it for her community," she said.

A widow remembered a text to her husband. Rob Hiaasen died on his wife's birthday.

"Thank you to every human who had anything to do with propping us up and keeping that paper alive all this time," said Maria Hiaasen.

When a gunman stormed the Capital Gazette on June 28, 2018, some reporters took cover, but their journalistic instincts still kicked in.

Reporter Phil Davis tweeted updates to the world as he worried about his life.

"Certainly in the annals of history I want Wendy, Rob, Gerald, Rebecca and John to be remembered with words like guardians. It will give their names weight the way they deserve, especially as people generations from now will learn who they are perhaps for the first time when they walk by this memorial," said Davis.

The memorial which has a bronze plaque and a horrifying headline about its own staff which read "5 Shot Dead at the Capital" is located near Compromise Street and Newman Street. It also has a bold reminder that freedom of the press should not be abridged.


Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed June 28, 2021, "Freedom of the Press Day" in honor of the five Capital Gazette employees who were murdered three years ago.

"It has now been three years since five employees of the Capital Gazette lost their lives in a horrific act of violence," said Hogan. "Today, as we dedicate a new memorial in their honor, we are reminded that our First Amendment—and our democracy itself—depends on a strong, vibrant, and unfettered free press. We must all continue to work hard to guard and defend that at all costs."

Gunman Jarrod Ramos pleaded guilty to all 23 counts against him in October 2019, but he says he's not criminally responsible due to mental illness. A jury has recently been selected to determine whether Ramos should be sentenced to prison or committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

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