Syd is a legendary figure in Tampa radical politics, a tireless organizer who refused to be pinned down to one project and fought for liberation in nearly every aspect of her life. She was a founding member of the Tampa Sex Worker Solidarity Network, took part and was even arrested in the ICE occupations in Tampa, and was a permanent fixture in many a rally. She also a key player in the local Redneck Revolt chapter, and had no illusions that power would simply wither away and die. Determined, fierce, I met Syd at one of Tampa’s most radical May Day Rallies.
“That’s a nice flag you got there.” A young woman dressed in black smiled at me.
“Yeah. The symbol has something to do with sex worker solidarity.”
“I know,” she laughed. “I made it.”
Even then, knowing nothing about her, I sensed something weird and powerful within. This was not your average leftist.
Her record in the community alone could testify to that, as well as her fully integrated grasp of capitalism and its malicious ways. On top of all of that I would later find out she was no stranger to the occult. Curious, though very skeptical.
Before the Tampa Bay Ice occupation she had sent me an encrypted message, asking what kind of spellwork might aid in direct action. I pointed towards Jesus Malverde, and said I’d gladly buy a statue for her to cultivate a relationship with The Generous Bandit. We had plans to eventually make our way down to Yeehaw Junction and engage in some crossroads work alongside other sex workers. At the recent Redneck Revolt conference in New Orleans Syd made sure to stop at a local candle shop, and had plans to sneak into a few cemeteries. A comrade she was with even asked if I wanted them to grab me some graveyard dirt when they got inside.
Not too long ago Syd told me she never got the statue. Pissed it had gotten lost in the mail, I decided I’d buy another one and deliver it myself. It’d been a minute since I’d seen her anyway, and I thought it would be great to hear about all the unrelenting work she had put in to make Tampa Bay the most radical, militant city in Florida.
Sydney Eastwin is dead.
She was 28.
“Someday you’ll call my name and I won’t answer, Someday you’ll reach for me, I won’t be there…”
Death is a constant companion to the struggle for a better life. 1.5 million perished in Algeria to defeat the supposedly democratic French state, the same country usually brought up for its “socialist” healthcare rather than open use of torture in the aforementioned conflict. 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters lost their lives fighting the United States. The amount of Palestinians killed by the Israelis in a war over basic human decency has filled the ground with more corpses than we can count.
The United States has its own killing fields: the streets of immigrant and black communities. There white men are state sanctioned to enforce “the law” as they see fit and to kill anybody that gets in their way. While tears stream down our face, the names of those taken by these monsters become words of power. We remember their last moments, resolve ourselves to never forget just who the enemy is.
Death doesn’t just lurk inside guns. The deaths of those who could have been saved if they had healthcare, who perish from diseases that could have been prevented, lie rotting at Capitalism’s altar. The miner’s cough in West Virginia, the skin cancer of a landscaper, all the fruits of lives spent making money for somebody else.
But there are still others. Others so often spoken in hushed tones. Sex Workers who disappear in the night, entire families never seen again after crossing an imaginary line in the desert.
Still too wait the victims of a mental war, who can’t take the never-ending violence propagated upon them by society. Hanging in closets. Slipping into red colored water in bathtubs. Found with needles in their arms. Gaping holes in the sides of heads, hands still clutching letters that start with the words “I’m sorry…”
All around us we are surrounded by the Dead, souls eaten alive by a system intent on turning beautiful, powerful human beings into numbers on a screen. Into dollar signs. The Left, traditionally an atheistic endeavour, offers a few phrases and moves on. The Dead are fallen, but we are reminded that eventually it’ll all pay off. Sighs of “Rest In Power” are followed by moving feet. The human once again becomes reduced from an individual to a mere transaction.
These people are more than fighters, more than all the battles or the struggles combined. They are part of something far more uncanny than materialist minds care to confront.
It’s time to change that.