Beloved Mission Activist dies at 45
"There are fewer and fewer schools of politics, places where you learn how to do politics," said Grande. "Most of those that are still around in the Latino community are about deal-making, cozying up to the politicians. Eric offered an alternative. The spiritual and the political were always there. Those other fools started from the top-down. Eric started from the bottom up." This was a key principle of the Mission Anti-displacement Coalition that Eric was instrumental in establishing.
During the last five years of his life, Eric's bottom-up, interconnecting philosophy was realized at Dolores Street Community Services, a housing and community advocacy organization. For Wendy Phillips, longtime friend of Eric and DSCS Interim Executive Director, Eric was instrumental in securing real housing and other resources for different groups and in connecting DSCS and the Mission to immigrant rights, LGBT rights, and other struggles of our time.
"I think helping create MAC was a huge accomplishment of his because it stopped the massive wave of gentrifying capital entering the Mission. He and MAC mobilized hundreds of people to resist and show the board of supervisors and Mayor that the Mission wasn't going to go down without a fight." Their efforts resulted in a community rezoning process that has prioritized the creation of affordable housing in the Mission.
Phillips also noted that, while at DSCS, Eric also spearheaded the creation of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network, a network of thirteen organizations that provide free legal services for immigrants, and, of course, advocacy. As if describing his soccer-inspired cosmopolitanism, she said, "Before it became obvious to most, Eric sensed that things were getting really bad on immigration and decided to create SFILEN, which unites Latino organizations, African organizations, Arab organizations, and Asian organizations in an effort to defend immigrants citywide."
Eric's defense of — and offensives in — La Mision continues to reverberate in and beyond his beloved neighborhood. "My campaign is really reigniting and reasserting the movement that Eric Quezada helped to build and grow," said John Avalos, a serious contender in the upcoming Mayor's race. Avalos, who has dedicated his campaign to Eric and his family, believes that Eric best symbolizes the continuation of the "movement of the people to build power against the downtown forces of gentrification and create livable neighborhoods where people can live with dignity."
Eric Quezada spent his last days accompanied by loved ones. Along with Lorena, Ixchel and his mother, Eric was tended to and accompanied at his bedside by soccer buddies, family members, his closest personal and political friends, all of whom joined him in taking in the soothing sounds of his favorite music: guitarist friends playing boleros and bossa nova, CD's of Los Lobos and Jorge Drexler, whose song "Todo Se Transforma," (nothing is lost, everything is transformed) gave solace to Eric until his final breath. From the vantage point of our present heartbreak, it gives the rest of us hope.
In the lingo of the Latino and Latin American musical and political movements that informed Eric's thought and action and his life in La Mision, "El Compañero Eric Quezada murio conspirando," Comrade Eric Quezada died conspiring.
While in English the word "conspire" means to "make secret plans jointly to commit an unlawful or harmful act," in political Spanish the word has an almost opposite meaning. Conspirar is closer to the Latin roots that combine con, meaning "together," and spirare, the word for "breathing" and the origin of the word, "spirit."
In this way, Eric conspired for a better world. After his last breath, he has left us a great spirit. We love you, carnal. Compañero Eric Quezada PRESENTE! La Lucha Continua!!!