Sent to RememberTort@protonmail.com
I remember Tortugita as one of the softest and most generous people in the woods, a perpetually positive presence, ready with a smile and anything else they could offer to brighten your day. They were an optimist, assuming the best of people and demonstrating through their own actions just how good humans can be. I miss them already. Condolences and solidarity to all their family, friends, and comrades. We lost one of our best.
I didn’t know Tort for very long, but I am honored to have met them. In the short time I knew them, they were constantly putting a smile on my face, they had a laugh that was so infectious and always wanted to help others however they could. They had a deep love for music and would send me whatever their favorite song was at the moment. They were sweet, kind, and believed in a better world for all and the generations that will come after us, free from violence, destruction, and evil. Their love for the forest should be instilled in all of us, and their passion for protecting human life is an example we should all look up to. You fought hard friend, and beluga so much good to this world ; now it’s time for you to rest, we will carry on your legacy and ensure you are never forgotten.
I miss Tort already and so much fucking much. Met them a couple of times through mutuals when I was first going down to the forest. I remember I had come down to the forest with basically no money and was staying at a comrades house. When Tort found out I had driven far they instantly told me they would reimburse my travels. I was shook by their generosity.
When I started staying in the forest Tort and I got closer and bonded over being one of the few brown people there. We were the same age from the same region in the world and both coming to terms with being non binary. They reminded me so much of myself. There’s so many stories from all the love triangles we ended up in, to the mainly conversations we had. I saw so many sides of them and I just truly feel like I lost a sibling. It makes sense they passed in the forest, the one place they felt comfortably being, the one place they felt allowed them to be who they wanted to be. RIP Tort.
We love you
I didn’t know Tort for very long. I am deeply saddened by that. They were a badass who made the woods a more inhabitable space for people of color, and a very kind person to me when I really needed it. I respected the hell out of them. They were one of the most passionate and driven people I have ever met. An incredibly inspiring human whose loss both breaks my heart and fills me with rage. I will carry their memory in my heart forever.
To my sibling of the forests:
Your sacrifice shall not be in vain. The Wilds always takes care of its own.
May your spirit be a nightmare to our enemies. May your path be smooth and mighty. May your strength be our strength. May the arrow of Artemis guide you to your destination and pierce the heart of our fascist oppressors.
Manny was a close friend, comrade, and above all constant fighter for working people. I knew them in Tallahassee through the IWW, Food Not Bombs, and Live Oak Radical Ecology and I will never cease to be amazed by their tireless activism, their extreme empathy, and their ability to make everyone feel welcome in radical spaces. They died as they lived, fighting for a better world and defending the forest from destruction in the name of a fascist militarized police force. I hope their name will not be forgotten, and that their killer is brought to justice, but more than anything I hope the cause that they fought for is victorious. Now we mourn this great loss to the Tallahassee and Atlanta communities, but tomorrow we will fight back twice as hard against Capitalism and the State so that Tortuguita did not die in vain.
They were kind and fierce. They were sweet, extraordinarily smart, funny, conscientious, tender, silly, loving, and one of the most generous people I have ever met. And that contagious smile and laugh!!! I went to bed last night hearing their laughter in my head. Loud and beautiful. They somehow were still there to add levity and joy as I screamed, cried, and choked on my own spit all night.
And they killed you. You are gone, comrade. I miss you.
They had a deep understanding of solidarity and struggle. When the cops swept an encampment in my neighborhood, without hesitation, they shared their forest funds to get more tents and sleeping bags. Because they knew that these are not individual battles, but that these struggles are inherently tied to one another, that they are part of the same struggle. That is a lesson for the movement that must be carried forward. For them, for all of us, for the strength of the fight to stop cop city.
I will miss how we greeted one another, and our meager attempts to “make it a thing.”
“Death to fascism!”
“Liberation to all people!”
I searched my couch last night to see if you had accidentally left anything behind. A small scrap, something that fell out of your pocket to hold onto. It was desperate, I know. Maybe you would’ve appreciated that it was silly? I will forever hold onto your laugh though. I love you, comrade.
many hearts beating with yours out in the mountains – Love From Appalachia
I met him as Manny. I met him in Tallahassee, Florida when I was volunteering at the community art center called the plant. Manny explained to me how volunteering works at the plant and ever since then, he was always a bright and welcoming spirit whenever I went to volunteer at the plant. He had the warmest smile. You could really tell he was passionate about so many things…. art, activism, community. It showed through in everything he did. One time, I was volunteering at the plant and Manny had drawn a series of NSFW drawings. He was so excited to show them to me and a friend. Jalisa and I, we laugh about it now. It was so authentically him, he was so open about everything. He told us he was going to protect the forest in Atlanta, and he was so nonchalant about it. Like he was meant to be there, protecting it. I was worried. I am always worried when comrades do any sort of action, and I was especially worried since this was something that was new to me. My realm of activism was marches and city hall speeches. I had never occupied anything. But Manny, he just talked about it like it was natural. People would ask him questions and there would be no concern in his voice. Just excitement. It really seemed to me like he was excited to go. We didn’t keep in contact after he went to the forest, to protect it from cop city. We weren’t super close, but it truly feels like we have lost such a light in not only our Tallahassee community, but in your community now, as well. I have since moved to Tampa, and will hopefully be trying to plan a vigil here.
Rest in Power Comrade. I love you. See you on the other side.
I have no words and no comprehension of what happened. I can’t comprehend and haven’t been able to process. I wanted to share this photo of him I took though of him being very proud of one of his art pieces. Remembering Tort always, Deanna
Tortuguita welcomed and celebrated people in the woods, rejoiced in our existence simply for existing. Everytime I saw them, their eyes would like up and they’d smile, exclaiming a unique nickname they made up for me. Tort loved biking, the neighborhood coffee shop, mutual aid, kratom, non-dominating relationships. I only knew this person over a span of a few months, but like every forest defender, I fucking loved them and am grateful for their life and am grieving that they are no longer on this plane with us. I hope Weelaunee takes care of them.
A couple months back I had left an abusive relationship and was couch surfing so I was safe from my ex. One weekend I went down to the Weelaunee Forest with a friend so that we could hide there. Tort greeted us and made sure we were ok. They gave me a hug, found me a tent to sleep in, and made sure we had food. They offered to carry my things for me because we had to walk further than expected. I didn’t expect them to remember me a month later when I next saw them, but they did and immediately checked that I was ok. Every time I ever saw tort they showed how kind and loving their soul was.
I’ve been coming to the forest sporadically for weekends at a time since around may, and I met tort in the forest in June of 2022. They were such a kind and generous presence. They reimbursed me for gas to get to and from the forest, they helped me procure food for the time I spent down there, and they were such a kind presence to be around. After they lost their car there were a few days where I would drive them to do things they needed to do and meet with various community members. Of all the wonderful people I’ve met in the forest, they were the one who knew me best. Long Live Tortuguita.
Hi, I met Tortuguita in 2017. When Tortuguita was known as Manny to friends and family members. He was my Teacher’s Assistant for General Biology 1 Lab, kinda crazy, kinda genius. I admired his confidence and his way to speak to people. We became friends through the Environmental club at FSU Panama. He was so funny and weird, blatantly honest, outspoken, and certain of his core principles. Quite mean at first too. He didn’t congratulate people often, not in the lab, and not in the classes, so a compliment coming from him was high praise. We worked on a Pizza Wednesday talk together and I still remember that compliment “You were excellent, the rest sucked”. I laughed hard. He loved the earth and knew we got to fight to preserve it. Manny motivated us to do beach clean-ups all around Panama! We got our boots deep in the quicksand, and so many bags of crap. We left happy, exhausted, and reeking of garbage. Talking to Manny, we knew the chat was almost always going to steer to politics, history, or conservation biology. My parents didn’t love his ideologies or philosophies, I didn’t love them either but I always admired how Manny made coherent arguments on the spot. I’m sorry I didn’t reach out to them again, and the last memory Manny would have of me was carrying a bunch of grocery bags from target and leaving in a hurry in 2021. They got their degree in Psychology and either a minor in neuroscience or behavioural neuroscience. I remember fondly going to Casco with their mom and them to party. Manny had some nice moves! I will always remember them walking through FSU wearing a black fake leather jacket and a worn case to his side. He was super disorganised, messy, and a master procrastinator but he was wise, loving, and hella smart. Loyal… Goodbye Manny. Rest in Power. Daniela Key
the desire to write about tortugita has been rolling around in my head the past couple days. i’ve hesitated, cause i want so much to do it right, to dispel the myth that onlookers are trying to create around the circumstances of their murder. it’s a lot of pressure, and i can’t guarantee anything about how the world will respond after i send this, so i’ll just try my best and hope it’s enough.
i met tortugita by chance. in the summer i went with a friend of mine to the forest, back when the walking paths were still intact, the piano still standing inside the gazebo. we met many people that day, one of whom is now a friend for life. it was a hot day, typical by atlanta summer standards, but the tree cover and leaf litter provided a little shade and cool air. i was nervous to say the least, mostly cause i wanted the forest defenders to know i could be trusted (and for them to think i was cool). but they all welcomed me into the fold easily. within a few hours they brought me to their magic wards between two trees to keep prying eyes out, they flirted with me and fed me and fashioned tiny little fish out of pine needles for me to keep. tort was mellow, looking on calmly as the others chatted with me and my friend. this intrigued me, cause i’m something of an observer myself in groups and i recognized myself in them.
i came back to the living room a couple more times that summer, and tortugita and i spoke more one on one. they had a bright smile and a meandering way of speaking, but they were smart as a whip. they spoke gently, always kind, but just by looking i could see the tiredness in their eyes. folks would cycle in and out of the forest during the time i visited, so i rarely saw anyone twice. yet tortugita was always there, a familiar face that made me feel less nervous and more at home. i wish i could say that we were closer, but really i couldn’t get over myself fast enough to connect with them the way i wanted to. in hindsight, i think i’ll regret that for the rest of my life. i wonder now how many relationships i’ve let pass me by out of shame, or fear; i guess there’s no way to know. the longer this fight to protect the forest drags on the more afraid i become, but with every day i feel more and more like we’re going to win. tort knew what this would take, that it would be hard and maybe that someone would get hurt. i don’t know if they expected to die. i’m sure the thought crossed their mind, it would be hard not to think about the possibility at least once or twice. but can any of us really anticipate the circumstances of our death, much less accept them? i don’t know if tort knew they would be killed in this fight, and i’m not sure that it matters now. the truth is that they’re dead. i went to the vigil not even knowing it was them the cops had killed, i stood in the rain and lit a candle and thought to text them and ask how they were doing. i didn’t.
i think now on all those times i’ve hesitated to express my love and compassion when i wanted to. because i was afraid of judgment, of cruelty, of rejection. i’ve often been an outsider in this life and many times i’ve tried to harden my heart to cope with the weight of it all. but i was born a lover and i will die the very same way. i was not born afraid, that’s something artificial i accquired somewhere along the way. tortugita reminded me of that. they knew somehow i was afraid of everything even though i’m told i hide it well. i talk fast and loud because at any moment i know i could be interrupted, but they told me i could slow down, that i had time. like the tortoise and the hare. two days ago tortugita was alive. two days later they are dead and i know the cops shot first.there is no lump sum that can bring tortugita back to us, no hollow words from the city or ryan millsap that can ressurect them and their fiery spirit. the only true justice for tortugita is to end this, to kill cop city and blackhall studios and protect the forest from now until forever.
we can end this.YOU can end this. keisha lance bottoms, andre dickens, ryan milsap, you can end this now. the people are screaming, begging you to kill this monster and protect the people you swore you would keep safe. there is still time. tortugita did not have to die, your cops did not have to kill my friend in cold blood. know that no matter what happens now you are the killers, and we will not forget that.
and to tortugita, my friend. i’m sorry i was too afraid to say what i wanted to. to you of blessed memory i promise with god as my witness that i will try and be brave, to tell the truth even when i think it could get me hurt. i dedicate this fragment of poem to you, from a poet i found from a sticker on a telephone pole.
“There are also hands
long white hands with nails of fresh greenery
and finger-joints of dew
swaying eyelashes looking at butterflies
saddened because the day made a mistake on the stairs
There are also sexes fresh as running water
which leap up and down in the valley
because they are touched by the sun
They have no beards but they have clear eyes
and they chase dragonflies
without caring what people will say”making feet and hands, benjamin perét
— el jaguarundi
I remember when I first arrived at WPP I felt eager to help but inexperienced in land defense, and without close friends in The Forest. Everyone was so friendly in The Forest, but Tortugita was especially kind and showed me the ropes. We became especially close. One memory I will always cherish of Tort is the day we went on a supply run (camo, shoe glue, herbal provisions) and had a little book club in one of the nearby parking lots (reading Inhabit ofc). They had been harping on about that text all week and when I read it with them I understood why! They helped me to see a clearer path to a more utopian society through direct action by sharing their tattered, restitched together copy of that book, and discussing it with me. I will always remember Tortugita as a kind and fierce soul. They were a musician, a visual artist, a poet, a lover, a friend, a book club organizer, and a role model revolutionary. Their gender is a warm embrace offered to a scared child, and a molotov cocktail hurled at a cop car. (that was a paraphrasing of one of their poems but please send the original if you have it!) I will never forget the kindness and relentlessness that Tortugita embodied, and as we morn them I know we will be able to keep them alive by embodying their hard protective shell and their soft underbelly, their unrelenting kindness and their fierce defense of their communities, the warmth of their hugs and the scorching flame of their molotov heart. Rest in Power Tortugita.
Everyone in Tallahassee knew Manny. I’m not even exaggerating. They were a part of almost every single organization they could get their hands on in town (Food Not Bombs, The Plant, Live Oak Radical Ecology, International Workers of the World, Tallahassee Community Action Committee, Free Dan Baker, Stopping HB1, etc.). With every person who was lucky enough to be graced by their presence, they felt safe and free to do whatever they could for the community. They ran a cold night shelter for the homeless practically on their own when the Kearney Center couldn’t do it. They helped do grocery deliveries for those in the south side of town for free. They showed up to almost every single meal share that FNB hosted, and this is still only a fraction of the work they did for the Bond Community here in Tallahassee and beyond.
Manny, I always watched you from the periphery with awe. I always wanted to be your close friend. I wish you could’ve seen the vigil we had. You would’ve been proud.
I didn’t know Tortuguita for very long but wanted to share the memory I have of them. I was only in the forest for a week, and we didn’t cross paths until the day before I had to leave. I remember regretting how late we met because I thought they were wonderfully sweet and I wished we could’ve spent more time together. Still, though, I was lucky enough to spend my last afternoon with them. We played Bloc by Bloc from lunch until dark. It began with four of us, but over time, the other two had to leave, and every time someone did, Tortuguita took over their role. By the end, they were playing three characters at once, and I was laughing every step of the way. Neither of us really understood the rules so we made some up as we went, helping ourselves much more than we should’ve — deciding that most moves give you a bonus card, things like that. You’re supposed to slowly and tactfully liberate each section of the board, but they suggested that you can also win if you just kill all the cops, so that’s what we ended up doing. As we played, they cracked jokes, explained movement strategy, made me feel welcome in that sacred space. I think I’ve never smiled so long as the few hours I spent with them. On that cold fall day, they made me feel warm.
I only knew them for a short time, but I know Tortuguita brought so much to the forest. May their legacy inspire us all.
When I first met Tort, they were helping with several local projects and they were so passionate about it. It inspired me in more ways than one. Their enthusiasm and positivity was highly contagious. They and others played a significant role in helping establish community gardens in Florida, more specifically my hometown. They played a role in helping make sure the city didn’t force this local thrift store to shut down their business for housing homeless people. They were a great contributor in more ways than one. More importantly, they weren’t just a volunteer, they were a dear friend. They were always more than willing to stand up for their pals and for the vulnerable. One my favorite memories with them was when I needed an escape, it just so happened that they needed help with volunteer work. We were all shoveling dirt and they were listening to me vent. After that we got food. They were very understanding and it made me feel heard. Also the whole process of building Plantasia was a bonding experience I could never forget. I appreciate the quiet moments I’ve had with them as well. Jamming out with them and our friends and the occasional conversation in the middle, it was great! They were always willing to do anything to help anyone. Police brutality is always going to be traumatic and upsetting, but it lights a particular fire in the people who knew the victims the best. This is not over, their death will not be in vain. Their death will never be forgotten by the community. Rest in Power.
tort was one of the most special people ive ever met. intelligent, witty, and very funny. everyone has such great memories of them. my favorite memory of them will always be from the night of the december 13th raid in the forest.
that night after the cops destroyed most of the camps and infrastructure, 5 of us decided to stay in Weelaunee People’s Park—after the rest of the forest friends who weren’t captured left the forest to safe houses.
tort asked me to stay, and said that we could start rebuilding that night—and that someone was bringing us soup and hot chocolate. all of us were sitting by the fire in space camp literally surrounded by the destruction from earlier that day. it looked like a tornado had come through there.
then at one point tort looked up and noticed that there was still something intact up in one of the trees. it was a small black flag with the squatters symbol spray painted in white.
next thing was one of the funniest things i’ve heard and had me rolling.
tort: “hey check it out , up in the tree”
*raises hand to forehead to salute*
“🎵…And Our Flag Was Still There…”
the irony was rich; we all belly laughed for a minute. im so grateful i got to meet tort and experience the joy they had to offer.
long live the memory of tort in our hearts
long live the forest
& long live anarchy
When Manny and I first met they came to my table at the Frenchtown Farmers Market. FT was where they sold art and spent time with the community. When we met I was still kicking off my food business and really stressed my customer service skills. I remember after Manny bought their plate I kept thinking to myself “omg! Was I awkward? Did they like me? Oh I’m sure they won’t come by again :(” But that was just my anxiety beating me up because, after that day, Manny always came by, even just to say hi. They really were one of my favorite regulars. With Manny, I had a “pay what you can and if you can” policy. Because at the end of the day, I was going to serve them a plate regardless. Their smile was worth it all.
Over the years I stopped selling at Frenchtown but expanded to other community spaces. Because Manny was so involved in the community, I always ran into them. Sometimes they even made it a point to be there if I was selling food and that always warmed my heart. I remember one night I popped up at The Plant and when Manny saw me their face lit up and started telling everyone “the empanadas are here!!” I could cry!
In one of our conversations, Manny was telling me about their life and I said “I think you’re so great. There should be a statue of you somewhere” and they kindly told me “Haha I’m actually against that kind of stuff” and expanded on why. I think that’s when I fell in friend love with them.
But all though most of our memories of Manny are fond, sweet, and passive, I want people to know above all, Manny was a badass. Every day they woke up and did the shit most of us are too pussy to do. What Manny did was important, revolutionary, and courageous. A fierce, fearless soul who regardless, deserves our admiration and action. We got to continue the fight.
Rest in Power. Rest in Peace. All Cops Are Bastards.
Love,Mel-Best,Melissa Cárcamo (she/her/ella)
Gofundme for Tort’s Family: https://gofund.me/eaa17a59
Donate to Atlanta Solidarity Fund: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/contribute-to-the-atlanta-solidarity-fund