The Tampa Bay activist community lost a strong advocate for the rights of migrant families and sex workers; Sydney Eastman passed away over the weekend. She was a founding member of Tampa Bay DSA [Democratic Socialists of America], a co-Founder of Restorative Justice Coalition, and a member of groups like Love Has No Borders, Sex Worker Solidarity Network and Hillsborough Community Protection Coalition. She was an anti-racist advocate, and fought for harm-reduction practices on both a local government and community level.
Eastman was arrested in July protesting the Tampa offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Eastman and five colleagues from Occupy ICE Tampa locked bicycle locks around their necks to protest family separation policies. She was a guest on WMNF’s MidPoint in August.
Listen to that show segment here:
You can watch that MidPoint show here:
In July, before Eastman was arrested, she told WMNF why she was involved in Occupy ICE Tampa:
“We’re here because we’re absolutely outraged and disgusted at the way ICE is treating families here in the United States.
“We believe that this institution is the new Gestapo and needs to be abolished.”
Friends held a vigil for Eastman Sunday night in Ybor City. Here’s the Facebook invitation photo via the Restorative Justice Coalition:
On Facebook, Nell Abram wrote:
“I only crossed paths with Syd a few times, but when I heard of her death, I felt like oxygen was sucked out of the flame of hope that she personified in this otherwise hopeless time we are living in. I came tonight to stand at the periphery, put my body in the space and thereby pay my respects. I left with renewed hope. Thank you all for pledging to carry on, to carry her forward.”
Eastman also spoke out against a proposed “bathhouse ordinance” at Tampa City Council and in Hillsborough County.
Here’s video Eastman posted about her volunteer relief work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: