After the Annapolis Mass Shooting, We Must Re-Think Security at All Public Places

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Front Page of the Capital Gazette Newspaper following last week's tragedy.

Ever since the mass murders at the Capital newspaper just over a week ago in Annapolis, Maryland, I have given some thought to what are the lessons to be learned.

Whenever there is a tragedy like this, there is a natural tendency to see what could have prevented.

Recently, I saw a program on “60 Minutes” were a Secret Service agent named Cliff Hill agonized over the fact that if he had just been quicker in responding he might have saved the life of President John F. Kennedy.

I have read accounts were the bodyguards for Malcolm X wished they hadn’t followed his instructions not to search people in the Audubon Ballroom in upper Harlem in New York City.

Others have said that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle was too lax in their protection of the important Nobel Peace Prize leader. We will never know.

Yet, there are lessons to be learned from the tragedy at the Capital Gazette newspaper. One of them is to take all threats seriously and pay more attention to the issue of security.

It is pretty safe to assume that the future entrance to the Capital newspaper will be more controlled. There will be more security than in the past.

News media outlets have had security systems in place for years. Recently attorney Daryl Jones and I went to WBAL -TV studios for a meeting. They had an electronic fence, a required sign-in, a required photo identification and they scanned your driver’s license as well. While nothing is foolproof, it does minimize certain threats.

Not only is it important for the Capital owners and the publication’s editor, Rick Hutzell, to re-think security measures. It is also it important for community groups and churches to do the same.

When a White supremacist shot and killed 9 black people at a church in South Carolina people were dumbfounded. Many couldn’t believe that in a place of worship, a zealous, vicious racist would do that. But he did.

Despite this, few churches have taken steps to prevent a similar occurrence. Our places of worship must re-think this lax attitude.

Years ago, I received threats from the Ku Klux Klan when I was on the Annapolis City Council. City Hall needs to re-think their own security.

As a columnist for the Capital, I have read the mean-spirited comments of racists. I am well aware of the climate that we are living in, and I want to make sure that the community is aware as well.

While I certainly don’t want fear to paralyze our movement for social justice, I do want us to be much more aware that not everyone has our best interest at heart.

Therefore, the NAACP, ACLU, PUSH, WISE, SCLC, OIC, Caucus of African-American Leaders and other organizations must do their own internal security analysis.

Long after the funerals of President Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. King and other martyrs, we have learned that no person, school, community or newsroom is immune from these senseless acts of violence.

Annapolis is now like Dallas, Harlem, and Memphis. It will be forever known as the place where five people were murdered at a newspaper doing their jobs.

I have seen the ugly comments and commentaries of the racists and the extremists.

I know that not all grieve at the loss of these five journalists – just as not everyone was sad to see that JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X were murdered.

We owe it to the martyrs and to ourselves to make it more difficult to achieve their nefarious goals.

Saturday, I plan to attend the funeral of Wendi Winters, and by Tuesday, July 10, 2018, I plan to have the Caucus of African-American Leaders to have in place our own security plan.

If you do not learn from these horrific acts, surely in the future, you too will be tormented by the question:

“Could we have done more to prevent these murders”?

Carl Snowden leads the African American Caucus in Anne Arundel County. He is a life-long activist and columnist for the Capital Newspaper and The Arundel Patriot.

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