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A Send Off for Richard Williams

August 11, 2006

Editor’s note: The following are words written by Kazi Toure, former political prisoner and longtime comrade of Richard Williams, who died in a federal prison last December. Before he passed, Richard’s children (Netdahe, Henekis and Richard) told him that they would hold a memorial gathering in Vermond in the summer, where his ashes would be dispersed to the fire and wind by his family and friends. Some of Richard’s comrades, friends and family gathered on a Vermont mountainside on the weekend of June 16-18 to remember and honor him).

Russell Maroon Shoats Jr. at entrance to the gathering

We left Boston around 9:30pm Thursday night. Headed up to our comrade’s memorial/party, arriving around l a.m.

The trip was relatively easy. We did get a little tripped up on the final stretch and rolled 20 yards past the mark, a fire in the middle of a field which was surrounded by trees. Netdahe and Russell (PP Russell Maroon Shoats’ son) were the only ones there, keeping the fire going… We were grateful and happy to see them, and every thing was reciprocal, every thing was everything, as we sat down around the fire, Netdahe sat Richards ashes down beside me, we twisted something up, reasoned, and let the spirits flow. For those locked, it was a beautiful night. The sky was clear and full of stars something we rarely get to see in the city.

Some of the many people, including Richard’s sister, former wife, and mother-in-law

On Friday people began filtering in. See flick of Russell standing at the entrance arrangement courtesy of Brook (Richard’s daughter-in-law) and Sally (Richard’s ex-wife). Russell, Da and Netdahe hooked up a sound system. Then it was off to get some food and drinks… preparing to honor a real working class hero, someone who understood it was in his best interest as a human being to fight with everything he had against injustice everywhere. Folks came in all day from all over. California, Western Mass, East Boston, Philadelphia, Boston, Maine, New Hampshire, New York ,Vermont and those are only the ones that I can think of. There were approximately eighty to a hundred people present on Saturday. The air was festive a true buzz could be felt by all, I heard the word Freedom and I feel Free more than once and believe it’s the way Dickie would have wanted it.

Fishermen and fish for the people

Sekou came through with over twenty pounds of rainbow trout he and his fishing buddy had caught over the previous week. They set up their own grill and treated folk with some marvelous fish plates. See flick…Sally arrived around the same time with Richards oldest son Richard jr. his wife and their son. They flew in from Cali. wasting no time setting up their tent. We had an area of 60 yards wide and 100 yards long, surrounded by trees. Netdahe and Russell cleared the area with some rigged up stick and blade. They had dug a pit ten feet in circumference for a fire. Early in the afternoon Henekis set up a collagbe of pictures of her father’s life inside and out. Then we made a table for the urn. See flicks…

People looking at the photo display of Richard’s life

Saturday evening around dusk we started the ceremony… Netdahe started it off explaining Richards last wishes, placing some of his ashes on the fire…Russell poured libations for those who have passed over and people took turns sharing partRichards life…It was really a good send off…The next day on Sunday Russell, Ricky (PP Jaan Laaman’s son), Netdahe, Henekis, Brook, and a few others took a hour hike up a mountain to release the rest of his ashes…They say when they threw the ashes off the mountain they fell some one hundred feet or more then a current of air picked the ashes up and brought them all the way back up to them…as if to say, thank you. The whole feel was so right that folk decided to do something annually.

Richard’s ashes in the urn

Richard’s daughter Henekis at the campfire, speaking about her father

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