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Jen Lawhorne: Ace Reporter, Activist Extraordinare, Awesome Human Being

After almost seven years living and organizing in our fair, flustered city, Jen's heading south of the border. Fluent in Spanish for many years, she'll be spending the next several months doing solidarity work in Chiapas, Mexico. Jen also plans to travel to other destinations before rededicating herself to whatever new and very lucky home she chooses.
Readers of this site will easily recognize Jen's countless invaluable contributions over the past few years. Seemingly inexhaustible, Jen's dedication as a reporter has consistently provided Indymedia users around the world with exclusive coverage of regional, national, and international news. Jen has not only continually covered the Richmond region, she's also reported from such far-flung places as Buenos Aires, Argentina; Miami, Florida; and New York City, New York. Her writing has also appeared in other independent media outlets, such as Left Turn magazine. We're confident her reporting for Indymedia is just the beginning of the world's appreciation of her immense talent as a journalist.

A dramatic flair for words, the guts to ask the hardest of questions, and an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time are just a few of the qualities that have made Jen an outstanding journalist. One of the cherished attributes of Jen's writing has been her commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless. Through direct interviews with people normally neglected in the mainstream press, and sensitive, analytical coverage of pressing political issues, Jen has proved herself time and time again.

So much more than a passionate reporter, Jen is also a compassionate member of the Richmond community. If Jen has picked up the pen to report on something, it often also means she's taken on the cause personally. In her time here, she has organized around a multitude of issues, as such homeless rights, living wage campaigns, labor struggles, anti-racist work, and anti-war mobilizations.

As evident through her work, one the causes closest to Jen's heart is fighting against this country's unending wars. When it comes to anti-war work, she's done everything from set up speaking events, public forums, activist conferences, rallies large and small, and marches galore, from the infamous torch-lit march in Carytown in November 2002 to Richmond's latest show of opposition in the streets this past July. Jen was one of the central coordinators of the historic RECLAIM conference and march. What was planned months in advance as regional anti-war conference coincedentally ended up occurring the very same week that the war on Iraq was declared, March 21-23, 2003. The conference drew hundreds and the permitted march errupted into a 4,000 person strong display of opposition to the war, and took the streets of this sleepy southern city. Most recently, Jen was integral to continuing these efforts by helping reestablish the Virginia Anti-War Network in its newest and strongest official formation.

Jen's work is in no way limited to Virginia. In 2004, Jen traveled to Argentina to learn from the people there, who are engaged in one the most inspiring and successful uprisings in the battle against global capitalism. Earlier, she along with fellow Food Not Bomber Sean O' Hern attempted to enter the occupied territories of Palestine during the International Solidarity Movement's Freedom Summer. Denied entry in Tel Aviv and promptly put on an airplane back to the U.S., Jen nonetheless managed to ingeniously get the issue of Palestine, and her particular experience with it, unique national airtime. Sparing the details, Jen finagled her way onto the Judge Judy show, where the good judge herself furrowed her brow and asked, “You mean the Israelis actually detained you for trying to offer humanitarian aid??

This past summer, Jen and Sean joined forces again in New York City, spending the month leading up to the Republican National Convention doing on-the-ground, around the clock preparatory work for the grassroots mobilization that would become the largest counter-convention protests in this country's history.

We've tried to keep this appreciation of Jen Lawhorne as brief as possible. In doing so, we know we've left out a lot of details and we invite all of you who know Jen and her work to comment here and add your own story to this tribute.

On behalf of everyone at Richmond Indymedia, and a whole lot of other folks, we wish you the very best. Know that where ever you end up next, Richmond will always keep you in our hearts. Que Se Vayan Todos!

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