Editor’s Note: For the purposes of this memorial, The Student Insurgent has decided against rehashing the traumatic events of Landeros’ death. The circumstances leading up to and surrounding their death can be found elsewhere such as in the Register Guard and Daily Emerald.
Charlie Landeros died on Jan. 11, 2019. Last month, on the anniversary of their death, community members gathered at the Fifth Avenue Church to memorialize their life and honor their commitment to persistent community activism throughout their life.
Landeros began attending the University of Oregon in 2014. During their time at UO, Landeros was involved in numerous activist and advocacy causes. They worked as a sex educator and survivor advocate with UO’s Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team. One of their duties with SWAT was to educate incoming freshmen about healthy sexual relationships and sexual assault prevention, according to a UO blog.
They were also involved in other aspects of social justice. The day of President Schill’s planned State of the University address in 2017, Landeros led a group of about 45 protesters to take the stage and prevent the address. Instead of hearing Schill’s speech, protesters decried rising tuition costs and the university’s treatment of minority students. Landeros gave a speech into a megaphone and cited indigenous rights and minority student safety and oppression as reasons for the protest, according to the Daily Emerlad.
Landeros left UO without a degree at the end of fall term 2017, but continued their activism on multiple fronts. Eugene City Council records show Landeros was present on several occasions to support measures such as making Eugene a sanctuary city and support of DREAMers.
Though Landeros had once been a pacifist, they saw the resurgence of fascist and white supremacist groups in the U.S. as a call to action. Landeros co-founded Community Armed Self-Defense, a group dedicated to “empowering all oppressed people with the knowledge, ability and will to defend themselves,” according to its Facebook page. Landeros helped to train other marginalized people in the use and maintenance of firearms and educated them about their rights. They were an active member of Community Armed Self-Defense until their death.
That is the person the community gathered to celebrate on the anniversary of their death. The Fifth Avenue Church opened its doors for the memorial at 5 p.m. and mourners began to arrive. Several walls were adorned with images of Landeros, paintings by Ariel, Landeros’ partner at the time of their death, poems Landeros wrote and mementos of their life. Attendees milled about and commiserated about what Landeros had meant to them and how they continued their activism in the community.
Ariel took the stage and delivered a speech. At times she became tearful, but the message was one of hope for continued resistance to tyranny in Landeros’ honor. “We keep Charlie alive. We keep their memory alive when we act and when we move in the ways they helped to shape,” she said. Ariel also announced plans to continue holding memorial events annually in the future. Some events, she said, would be informative, such as Know-Your-Rights workshops, but others would be purely celebrations and opportunities for community members to kick back and revel in each other’s company.
Ariel finished speaking and brought the microphone down from the stage. What followed was an opportunity for any attendee to speak about their relationship with Landeros. Many people told stories about how they and Landeros had met or how Landeros had worked to improve the lives of everyone they met, from donating food from their garden to free-food programs to offering a sympathetic ear to friends in crisis.
The themes of love and rage showed through as people recited poems and letters about the ways Charlie was as likely to be tending to their potato plants as they were to be teaching someone how to use and maintain a firearm.
Love and Rage
By Charlie Landeros
“Do not let anyone quench your fire. Do not let them dismiss your love nor pacify your rage. My love, do not water yourself down.”