ANNAPOLIS — In dismal weather and with death penalty protesters rallying nearby, Parris N. Glendening was sworn in for his second term as Maryland’s 59th governor on Wednesday.
More than 200 years after Thomas Johnson became Maryland’s first state governor, Glendening stressed the importance of both the strides made in the past and those that lie ahead.
“We have only just begun,” Glendening said to the roughly 600 hundred spectators who braved 48-degree temperatures and light rain to attend the inaugural ceremony in front of the Statehouse steps.
“We are standing on the threshold of a new time,” he said.
Glendening was flanked by his wife, Frances Hughes, and 19-year-old son, Raymond, who, Glendening confessed earlier in the ceremony, “partied last night and got up early to be here.”
“He follows the Glendening rule: work hard, play hard,” he said.
After choral groups rang in the events, the Rev. Grainger Browning of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington asked all attendees to grasp hands and called for the newly inaugurated administration to be blessed.
But Glendening didn’t have the blessing of all those in attendance.
“Glendening says, ‘Death row.’ We say, ‘Hell no,'” shouted members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, during the governor’s address.
Members stood behind roadblocks in front of the Statehouse on College Avenue for most of the ceremony, but were moved farther down Blade Street after their protests threatened to drown out the governor.
Some of the campaign members held signs reading “Stop all executions,” “Execute justice, not people” and “Is Parris right for civil rights? Hell no to death row.”
The protesters were inspired to come to Glendening’s inaugural by the execution of 32- year-old Tyrone X. Gilliam during the governor’s previous term. After 10 years on death row, Gilliam was executed Nov. 16.
Gilliam was found guilty of the Dec. 2, 1988, shooting death and robbery of Christine J. Doerfler, 21.
Gilliam’s execution by lethal injection brought his sister, Zelda Gilliam-Price from Baltimore to the inauguration. She said the organization will seize every opportunity to get their message across.
“It’s certainly not going to stop with my brother’s murder,” she said.
Group members say Glendening is a hypocrite for wooing the black community during the 1998 election season while supporting the death penalty, because the majority of the people on death row are black.
“We’re not going to tolerate the injustice anymore,” said John Gilliam-Price(cq), Gilliam’s brother-in-law. “We’re tired of the death penalty — it’s an embarrassment to Maryland.”
The protest caused Glendening to momentarily stumble over his words in the midst of his remarks.
During those remarks he set three challenges for his term: education, the environment and equality for all.
“This moment in history calls on us to renew our ideals and to strive with all of our strength to make Maryland the Free State in reality, as well as in words,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the audience, Montgomery County resident Yvonne Herndon voted for Glendening twice, but said supporting the government does not end with the vote.
“As a citizen and small business owner, I’m here to celebrate with them (Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend),” she said. “I really believe in order to make changes, we have to be involved.”
The events even stirred emotion in some.
“I like the American people, they’re very patriotic,” said Lieselotte Lewis, an Annapolis resident. Formerly from Germany, Lewis said she has not had similar opportunities abroad to see government in action.
“To me, it comes from the heart,” she said, crying. “Just to be here — its all just very emotional for me.”