AYF to Host ‘Streetfighter in the Courtroom’ Film Screening, Discussion

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GLENDALE – The United Human Rights Council (UHRC) of the Armenian Youth Federation – Western Region’s (AYF-WR) is hosting a screening of Roxanne Makasdjian (Bezjian)’s documentary Charles Garry: Streetfighter in the Courtroom and panel discussion on Sunday February 28th. The event will be held at 6 p.m. at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, and is co-sponsored by the Occidental College Armenian Students’ Association and Black Student Alliance.

The one-hour documentary tells the story of Armenian-American defense attorney Charles Garry, who was noted for his defense of political activist groups including the Black Panthers, Los Siete de la Raza, the Oakland 7 and the Chicago 8.

Streetfighter highlights Garry’s childhood and experiences with anti-Armenian and xenophobic racism in the Central Valley of California, and how his background as the son of Armenian refugees escaping the 1890’s Hamidian massacres shaped his career.

In October of 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Black Panther was chosen as the symbol of the party because the  panther is an animal that does not attack unprovoked, but will defend itself vehemently.

The Black Panther was chosen as the symbol of the party because the panther is an animal that does not attack unprovoked, but will defend itself vehemently.

“This is the second edition of this year’s ‘Haytoug Talks’, a series of panels, film screenings, and other conversations hosted by the AYF-WR to engage the Armenian-American community with unique topics that are not often extensively addressed”, said Mikael Matossian, current co-chairperson of the UHRC.

“Charles Garry’s legacy is a symbol of the intersection between African- and Armenian-American experiences. We hope to use the film and discussion to not only highlight those parallels of the past, but also explore the current conditions of both communities, including today’s systematic anti-Blackness in the United States and oppression of Armenian citizens in the Republic of Turkey,” added Matossian.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour, followed by the screening of the film at 7 p.m. and a panel discussion at 8 p.m. Panel participants include Makasdjian, who will be joining the conversation virtually. The full lineup of speakers will be announced soon.

“I’m very gratified that Charles (Garabedian) Garry’s life and work, which I tried to share through this documentary, can still serve to inspire our youth to continue the fight for justice for all,” stated Makasdjian, who produced, directed and edited the film.

Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (Left) and his chief counsel. Charles Garry (Right), who was born to Armenian immigrant parents who had escaped the mounting genocide of Armenians in the early 1900's.

Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (Left) and his chief counsel, Charles Garry (Right), who was born to Armenian immigrant parents who had escaped the mounting genocide of Armenians in the early 1900’s.

The organizers of the event aim for the panel discussion to not only focus on Garry’s life and impact, but also highlight the various intersectionalities between the Armenian- and African-American communities, and the contemporary issues that these communities face in both in the United States and globally.

This event is free and open to the public. The screening and discussion will be held in Fowler Room 302 at Occidental College (1600 Campus Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90041). Information on parking and other details can be found on Facebook, at www.tinyurl.com/AYFstreetfighter.

The United Human Rights Council (UHRC) is a committee of the Armenian Youth Federation. By means of action on a grassroots level, the UHRC works towards exposing and correcting human rights violations of governments worldwide, and aims to foster dialogue and collaboration between peoples who share this common vision.

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