Luis Alejandro Molina
I first met Lawrence in person about 2002, 2003 at the founding conference of Critical Resistance in San Francisco. He had come up from Los Angeles, and while I can’t remember if he brought anyone with him, I distinctly remember getting a bear hug of a welcome. We had been emailing for awhile before that, and this meeting was to discuss how the Puerto Rican Alliance could participate in the Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera.
We quickly coordinated a speaking engagement in a community center in Los Angeles and I got to know Lawrence more along the way and some of the impressions that stuck with me in the years to come. Lawrence was determined. If he didn’t have a direct contact with someone, he would immediately start brainstorming, like any good activist, trying to figure out how many degrees of separation existed between the person and himself, and usually he succeeded. In various in-person meetings with other people present, he would start the discussion by saying, “Bueno mi gente, we gotta free Oscar López Rivera.” And we would go on from there.
During Oscar’s tour of Northern California in 2018, Lawrence was part of the planning group, led by Nicole Hernández from Puerto Rican in Action in Los Angeles, Aixa Gannon from Bay Area Alliance for a Sustainable Puerto Rico (BAASPR) and Margarita Annastasia Gallagher. Together, they coordinated a tour of close to 20 speaking engagements radio interviews in a dozen cities that raised over $20,000.00 for Oscar’s Foundation.
After the tour, Lawrence remained connected to the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago, and to Oscar in Puerto Rico, visiting him whenever he was on the island.
I had always known that Lawrence had diabetes (as do I) but the last two years or so, Michael (Novick) had let me know, that coupled with the other issues Lawrence was struggling with, he was having an increasingly hard time with his diabetes. Because of this, we began to speak occasionally, where I would give him an update on Chicago and Oscar, but at the end, seriously remind him that he had more to contribute to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence, but in order to do so, had to be alive, to which he would reply, “I know brother, I get it.”
I want to thank Michael for organizing the Zoom with Lawrence in the hospital at the end. Very important that Lawrence passed surrounded by people that he loved and loved him, that appreciated his efforts in struggling for a better world, and importantly will carry on, remembering him because a better world is possible.