Balloons in the colors of the United States, American flags planted in the lawn, a teddy bear, a few bouquets of flowers and a letter swearing “ to make things change “. As often after a massacre, a memorial was hastily erected in front of the police cordon installed a few hundred meters from the premises of the Capital Gazette, the Annapolis (Maryland) newspaper where on Thursday June 28, a 38 year old man, armed with a shotgun, killed five people: Gerald Fischman, the editorial manager, 61 years old; Robert Hiaasen, the associate editor, 59; John McNamara, 56 and Wendi Winters, 65, two journalists; and Rebecca Smith, 34, marketing assistant.
On the sidewalk of this soulless crossroads, where brick buildings line up indifferently sheltering banks, beauty salons or real estate agencies, the inhabitants drop off a bouquet or meditate, on their knees, in prayer. For Olivia Fox, who came next door, this new drama is “ sorry “. “ There is no more respect for life. And above all, there is too much anger: people can no longer manage their emotions. And if you add guns to it, you get that kind of drama. “
Chaining the interviews to television cameras installed on the spot since the day before, the mayor of Annapolis, Gavin Buckley, said nothing else. “ This type of killing cannot become the new norm in our society. You have to stop being angry and hateful as soon as you don’t agree with each other “, insists the democrat councilor of this rather chic little port city, renowned for its naval base. “ I do not understand what is happening to this society where journalists and teachers have to worry about having a killer enter their premises. “ Nearly 24 hours after the tragedy, Donald Trump, familiar with violent diatribes against the press, also judged “ horrible “ the assassination of the four journalists and the sales manager. “ Journalists, like all Americans, should be able to do their jobs without fear of being the victim of violent attacks “, did he declare.
The murderer, Jarrod Ramos, had a tumultuous history with this small newspaper, popular for sports results, photos of events in the region and his monitoring of local politics. In 2012, he unsuccessfully sued the publication for libel following an article claiming that he harassed a woman on Facebook. He was dismissed three years later. In a tweet from that time, he made threats. “I would be happy to see the Capital Gazette cease to appear but it would be better to see Hartley and Marquardt [le journaliste auteur de l’article et le rédacteur en chef] stop breathing. ” Determined to close the case, the editor did not prosecute him, and subsequently the newspaper never heard of Jarrod Ramos again. Until Thursday afternoon when he fired at the newspaper’s unsecured premises. A few minutes before, his Twitter account, inactive for two years, had once again been the receptacle of his hatred: “Go get fucked up … leave me alone.” “
Founded in 1727, the Capital Gazette is one of thousands of small publications that somehow survive across the United States; it employed six reporters, two photographers and five editorial secretaries. The mayor recalled that this newspaper was not “Neither right nor left”, just a local newspaper with professionals trying to do their best. At a time of the systematic denunciation of “fake news” by part of American public opinion, led by the President of the United States, the survivors of the massacre, helped by journalists from Baltimore Sun, member of the same group as the Capital Gazette, reported the drama in their Friday morning edition and on their website throughout the day, promising in their page reserved for editorials “ informed opinions ».
As a premonitory echo of this drama, the newspaper republished on its website the editorial by one of the victims, Gerald Fischman, written after the shooting at a Parkland high school in February. In the article entitled “Let us wake up from this national nightmare”, he deplored the repetition of these killings and the reactions they provoke: “ Horror, mourning, candlelight vigils, articles on victims, articles on failed signals concerning the murderer, fiery debates on weapons that lead to nothing and then, waiting for the next bloodbath. “ Between fatalism and resignation, the Annapolis killings have not, for the time being, sparked any debate.