Newtown Asks Media to Avoid Massacre Anniversary

Unlike other sites of mass killings, the town schedules no public events on the fifth anniversary of the deaths of 20 school children and six educators. Some families have formed a group to support stronger gun laws and seek warning signs of violence.

In the five years since 20 school children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., a new school has been built, and the gunman’s house has been razed. How the community marks the grim occasion hasn’t changed: quietly and with a request for the media to stay away, reports the Wall Street Journal. Schools will be open, services will be held at local congregations and families will hold private remembrances, but there will be no public events. “This is really a time for the community to be together, and we’ve asked for that respect for the past five years,” said Lorrie Rodrigue, superintendent of schools.

Approaches vary on marking the anniversaries of mass killings. In New York City, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are marked by a public event where the names of the nearly 3,000 killed are read aloud. Orlando holds a day’s worth of events to remember the 49 people killed in the Pulse nightclub attack last year. Colorado’s Columbine High School cancels classes on the anniversary of the 1999 school shooting. Newtown is soliciting designs for a permanent memorial but otherwise has been steadfast in considering the anniversary a private occasion. Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year old son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, died, are among a group of Newtown residents who have become activists for the prevention of gun violence. Hockley and Barden co-founded Sandy Hook Promise to support stronger gun laws and partnerships with school districts across the U.S. to educate students about warning signs of those at risk of hurting themselves and others.