It is with great sadness that the People’s Tribune learned of the death of our beloved friend and colleague, Alexandra Maria Engel. Alex died of a drug overdose at age 20.
Alex was a journalism student in Florida when she joined the People’s Tribune editorial board. She was 17 years old at the time. A gifted writer, photographer and artist, Alex sought to contribute her knowledge and talents to the fight for a world that cares for its people.
Alex said she chose to work with the People’s Tribune because the paper expressed her political views. “I appreciate that the paper doesn’t shy away from issues such as police brutality the way most others might,” she said.
As a board member, Alex brought real-life experiences to discussions of poverty and homelessness (she was once homeless). She wrote cover stories, edited articles and encouraged her friends to contribute, too.
Alex’s deep concern about the dire conditions youth in America face was expressed in a note to the editorial board: “I have to miss a board meeting because a group of my friends are selling their blood plasma because they can’t get jobs. It’s sad to see how bad things have been allowed to get. I don’t think things can continue the way they are without some form of change. The whole situation is just unsustainable.”
Alex planned to visit the Chicago office of the People’s Tribune, but her health prevented it. “I’ve been sick the last few months but recently it’s gotten very bad,” she wrote. “I don’t think I will be able to come to Chicago and be away from my doctors. I look forward to getting back in touch with everyone and have been reading the People’s Tribunes that come in the mail and sending them out to friends and family. I’ve really missed being a part of it!”
Alex wanted to live. She wanted to get off the drugs. The system killed her.
Illicit drugs in America are an estimated $100 billion market, and this does not count the legal drugs. People in high places profit immensely from it, and so it continues. Government does little to help those who suffer its consequences.
Millions today are at risk of falling into despair, swallowed up by the enormity of the problems all around us. Even when we are able to see the systems that are at work destroying the world, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed.
And even when we see ourselves as revolutionaries, as agents of change, and can see that we can remake the world, we are still in danger. Depression can feel inescapable, addiction unavoidable.
The death of Alex Maria Engel calls us to redouble our effort to create a newspaper that helps the movement wage its fight for a new society. We dedicate this edition of the People’s Tribune to Alex, and to all of the youth who are joining the urgent fight for a new world.