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Activist George Zander, Recent Hate-Crime Victim, Dead at 71

Activist George Zander, Recent Hate-Crime Victim, Dead at 71

Chris and George Zander
Chris and George Zander

Zander and his husband were victims of an antigay attack in November, but it's not clear if that was related to his death.

George Zander, a longtime LGBT rights activist in Palm Springs, Calif., died today at age 71.

Zander and his husband, Chris, were attacked in a hate crime in early November, but it wasn't clear if George Zander's death was related to injuries suffered in that assault. Chris Zander reported the death in a Facebook post and listed no cause, Palm Springs TV station KESQ reports.

"My husband George Zander passed away this morning in loving arms and in very little pain," Chris Zander wrote. "His passion and strength has paved the road for many of us to follow, and build from. His legacy will live on forever. I love this man more than I love life itself, I can only assume that is what true love is."

The Zanders had just left Hunters, a popular Palm Springs gay bar, the night of November 1 when they were attacked by two men. One of the attackers had taunted them with a gay slur and reportedly pulled Chris Zander to the ground, then left the scene and returned with another man, and the two began beating the couple. Chris Zander suffered a concussion and cuts, and George Zander a double fracture to his hip, for which he required surgery. He was expected to recover fully from the operation.

Suspects Keith Terranova, 35, and James Carr, 30, are charged with elder abuse and felony hate crimes. Terranova, who was arrested November 11, has pleaded not guilty. Carr was arrested November 30.

George Zander was a veteran political activist, most recently as a field organizer for statewide LGBT rights group Equality California. Former Equality California executive director Geoff Kors, who is now a Palm Springs City Council member, issued the following statement, KESQ reports:

"I am stunned and deeply saddened by the sudden death of my dear friend, colleague and legendary activist George Zander. When George came to work for Equality California in 2009 he brought such talent and energy to his work to help advance marriage equality, ensure healthcare and provide a safer environment for LGBT students. George was an incredible person, passionate activist and political leader. His work to advance social justice will long be remembered. My condolences to George's husband Chris."

Activist Cleve Jones also expressed shock and grief:

I'm terribly saddened to learn of the death of my friend George Zander, a wonderful and kind man who dedicated his life...

Posted by Cleve Jones on Thursday, December 10, 2015
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