Dr. Steven Thrasher, a faculty member at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, was one of the many people who logged on for Borjas’ memorial. He has been stuck in New York since the coronavirus outbreak brought the city to a standstill and is grateful to be staying with friends instead of alone in his Chicago apartment.

Still, Thrasher felt a sense of anger while watching the memorial service online. Borjas always showed up when people needed her, he said. She frequently accompanied sex workers to court appearances. It was her way of humanizing some of society’s most vulnerable members and comforting them during their darkest hours. But when Borjas died, no one could be there for her.

“It felt very strange and alienating to be bearing witness as a small square on a screen,” Thrasher said.