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The Local Newspaper Mass Shooting Survivors Marched in Defiance on 4th of July

“We want our readers and our community to see that we believe things will, eventually, be OK again.”

Capital Gazette

Jay Reed/The Baltimore Sun via AP

On June 28th, five staffers of Annapolis, Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper were killed by an assailant wielding a legally purchased 12-gauge shotgun. Less than a week later, the paper’s surviving staff marched in the city’s Fourth of July parade. Their participation was announced in an article published Wednesday morning. “Normally, we cover the Fourth of July parade in Annapolis,” the article read. “Today, though, we’ll be among those faces. We are going to be part of the parade.”

The newspaper men and women published the article to announce their participation in the event, but also to make clear why they decided to march in the parade rather than cover it: “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.”

“We are reluctant symbols at the moment, maybe forever,” the article said before explaining how the Jungian idea that all symbols arise from the collective unconscious, and thus are something on which everyone agrees, might be flawed. “Modern America has demonstrated we can’t agree on the time of day, let alone on the meaning of a symbol as powerful as a newspaper targeted for death because of something one of its writers printed.”

Phil Davis, one of the paper’s staffers, told CNN that around 20 current and former employees participated in the march, calling the experience “surreal.”

“You’ll recognize us from our vaguely lost expressions,” the article said. “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.”

“We lost a big chunk of our newsroom and our hearts,” photographer Paul Gillespie, who held the banner and wore a shirt that read “Journalism Matters,” told Solis after the parade. “You can’t fill that hole, but these guys have made us feel a little better.”

Despite the attack last week, the Capital Gazette has continued to publish daily, with many of its staffers working out of a temporary newsroom. On the afternoon of the attack, a few staffers set up shop in a nearby parking garage to ensure the following day’s paper would be on newsstands. “5 Shot dead at The Capital,” Friday’s front page read. On top of the headline were pictures of the five staff members who were killed: Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith.

On Thursday, the American Society of News Editors will hold a moment of silence for the victims at 2:33 P.M., exactly one week after the attack occurred.

The Fourth of July parade ended at Annapolis’ waterfront. As CNN observed, Gazette staff writer Selene San Felice saw that someone had carved “fake news” into some wood on the dock. She scratched it out and replaced it with the names of the victims. Another staffer, Rachael Pacella, added a message: “Press on.”

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