UPDATE, 7/3/18: News reports now say that President Trump has ordered U.S. flags on federal property to be flown at half-staff until sunset this Tuesday, in honor of 5 employees of the Capital Gazette who were killed in a shooting in the paper’s newsroom this past Thursday. The order comes after Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said Monday that Trump had declined his request to lower the flags.
President Trump has declined a request from Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley to lower American flag at the White House to half-staff in honor of the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting last week, in which 5 people were killed.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Buckley requested over the weekend that the White House join in the state of Maryland’s lowering of the flags, which took place from Friday to sunset on Monday.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know?” Buckley said according to the Sun this Monday. “Is there a cutoff for tragedy? This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”
Buckley had hoped that the White House’s participation would help keep focus on the shooting,
From the Baltimore Sun:
Trump has ordered flags lowered for previous mass shootings, including in May after the deaths of 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February that left 17 dead.
While Buckley had previously thought he might lower the city’s own flags regardless of the president’s decision, the mayor said his wife talked him out of that.
On Thursday, 38-year-old Jarrod W. Ramos burst into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper with a shotgun and killed 5 people.
According to reports, the victims were assistant editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59, community correspondent Wendi Winters, 65, editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, staff writer John McNamara, 56, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34.
Trump’s past repeated attacks on the press were back in the public eye in the wake of the shooting — attacks that were also often echoed by his most vocal supporters.
Throughout Trump’s surge to the presidency up until the present day, rhetoric targeting the American press as adversaries of the people has been a common theme. According to report from the Observer the same week as the Capital Gazette shooting, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos had taken up the habit of telling reporters that he “can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” In a now-deleted Instagram post, Milo told Mediaite reporter Amy Russo that if journalists “keep lying, deceiving and manipulating the public, then they will reap the same hatred they are sowing against Trump and his voters.”
In January of this year, a man was arrested for making repeated threatening phone calls to CNN employees in Atlanta. In one call, Brandon Griesemer of Ann Arbor, Mich said, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.”
According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, there were 44 physical attacks on journalists in the United States in 2017.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore (Flickr)