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31 Dec 2015

A Note From the Editor: Remembering George Zander; Images From the Best of Coachella Valley Party

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This was supposed to be a very different Note From the Editor.

I’d planned to write about our fabulously successful Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 party (see several photos below) and then discuss our January 2016 print-edition cover story, which was supposed to be about discrimination at a local institution. (We’re still working on that piece; look for it in the near future.)

However, all of that changed on Dec. 10, when my friend George Zander, a well-known community activist, suddenly passed away.

George and his husband, Chris, were attacked in downtown Palm Springs on Nov. 1 in what police are calling a hate crime. After a brief altercation with a man who used the word “faggot,” George and Chris were attacked by that man and another man moments later in front of Sherman’s. Chris suffered a concussion after taking a tire iron to the head. George suffered a broken hip in the scuffle.

Post-attack, things seemed to be going OK. Chris was recovering from his injuries; George’s hip surgery was successful, and he was home after stints in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility. The police think they’ve caught the perpetrators, and the community was beautifully rallying behind George and Chris.

But on the morning of Dec. 10, George was rushed to Desert Regional Medical Center due to an emergency. He was gone within minutes. Chris told the world via Facebook that George died in his arms.

What all of this means in terms of the prosecution of the thugs who allegedly did this remained to be determined as of our press deadline.

What it means to the community is heartbreak.

Here at the Independent, we shifted gears and decided to make George the topic of the cover story in the January 2016 print edition, which is hitting streets this week. Brian Blueskye did a fantastic job of showing all that George has done over the years to help the afflicted in the Coachella Valley.

I last saw George on Nov. 18, the day after the benefit show on behalf of the Zanders that the Independent put together with Chill Bar. He was still in the rehab facility at the time; he went home several days later. George was typical George: His spirits were high, and he was already plotting his next bit of activism, telling me about something he’d recently learned about that he thought deserved media attention.

Once the holiday craziness is behind us, I am going to pursue that story that George told me about. If what George told me is correct, and it probably is, it’ll be an excellent piece. Look for that soon.

In the meantime, enjoy a handful of photos from the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 party below.

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