Well, this is awkward.
A spokesman for SAVE, South Florida’s largest queer advocacy group, has issued an apology after honoring four men accused of a violent attack on a gay couple in what police are investigating as a hate crime.
Tony Lima, Executive Director for SAVE, released a Facebook apology video on Friday claiming he spoke in “haste” following a ceremony in which he recognized the four men for their charity work while speaking at an annual Champions of Equality Gala for SAVE.
In the video, Lima explains that SAVE was contacted by the parents of 21-year-old Juan Lopez several weeks ago to arrange for Lopez to volunteer with the group.
Lopez and three other men–Adonis Diaz, 21, Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, 21, and Luis Alonso-Piovet, 20–all spent several hours volunteering with SAVE doing menial tasks like data entry for the group. They also bought tickets to the Gala, as did Lopez’s parents.
At the time, Lima was apparently unaware that the four men faced hate crime and aggravated battery charges related to an attack last June.
Following Pride celebrations in 2018, video captured the four men attacking Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov for being gay, as well as Helmut Muller Estrada, a passerby who stepped in to try and break up the fight. According to the victims, the four men shouted anti-gay slurs during the beating, which nearby cameras also caught on video.
In addition to Lima’s statement, SAVE also released a statement of apology on Facebook.
“We want to extend our deepest apologies first, to the victims, and equally, to the community for any insensitivity that may have been conveyed on our behalf by their attendance and mention at the gala,” it read.
“We are currently investigating this matter more thoroughly to determine the facts around the attendance and recognition of these individuals and will be providing an update to our supporters and the community at large as soon as we gather all the appropriate information.”
An attorney for Lopez continues to deny the hate crime charges, as Lopez’s father is gay and in a relationship with another man.
Meanwhile, the Office of the State’s Attorney released a statement claiming that the four suspects were in no way wrongfully accused and that the office will continue to pursue charges of battery and hate crimes against the four men.
Related: Disturbing video captures gay couple being violently attacked at Miami Beach Pride
So they gave four people charged with anti-LGBT hate crimes access to a database with the contact information for possibly thousands of LGBT people??!?!?
This is the biggest fluff piece I think I’ve ever seen on Queerty.
Talk about damage control. where’s the outrage Queerty for the fact that Tony stated that these guys were wrongfully accused in his speech at the gala?
Here, I’ll help you by quoting what Tony said that was so offensive:
“More details have come to light to show that this was not a hate driven crime. Basically they were defending themselves,” Lima said. “We’re supportive of their case moving forward. We support the truth coming to light.”
“It’s very easy to jump on a bandwagon when you feel your community is being attacked,” Lima said. “It’s important to look deeper into things when there is a shadow of a doubt.”
Where is the doubt Tony, the prosecutors say it is a clear cut case of a hate crime and there is ample video proof of it happening, proof that has been on blast in the media, that you have obviously chosen to ignore for the last year!
Tony, Have you lost your mind? Defending themselves? They attacked the guys, not vice versa. They also attacked a person trying to break up the fight. That isn’t “defending yourself”.
Press release announcing new leadership at the organization will be released soon.
I worked at non-profits for years and they were always way too casual about the “community service” assignees. Never seemed to be ANY curiosity about what their crimes had been.
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
There is this new thingy called the internets! Ya may wanna give it a look-see there’s a ton of info about people ya can find prior to allowing them access to your orgs data base!!!
shut up fool
My My My, the account that constantly defends Republicans is angry because somebody is getting dragged for hiring people who committed hate crimes against LGBT people.
So let me get this right: 1) Tony said something in haste that he would never say; 2) He talked to NO ONE (the board, CEO, etc. that he is so thankful) about considering giving these guys (frankly anybody) accolades and in front of the “world;” 3) Loss his mind having surrounded himself with not physically unattractive young MALES though what they clearly did was UGLY AS SIN; 4) allowing the opportunity to “redeem” themselves BEFORE they were charged and sentenced and served their sentence for a HATE CRIME of aggravated assault that easily could have led to murder? SAVE can redeem itself by first firing this guy Tony who needed to have canceled his vacation to tend to the damage back in Florida!
Gary Q VV
SAVE, South Florida’s largest queer advocacy group’s biggest problem and fumbler-extraordinaire apparently is Executive Director Tony Lima. It seems he’s elevated himself to a fancy title with untethered powers and less concern for the LGBTQ community. It’s time to revert back to a less pyramid style of leadership. Hate is hate and Love is love… remember PRIDE, too.
Just a guess, at least ONE of the guys is a closet case and Tony got himself a little crush.
Gary Q VV
@Cam …interesting observation. Tony does seem a bit worrisome during his guilt-ridden video.
Something still doesn’t smell right. He clearly knew who these young men were and now he is saying he wasn’t aware of their assault charges? Makes no sense. Wonder if they are blackmailing him or something cause.
Allowing these guys to volunteer or attend the Gala is not really exceptionally problematic. Having access to potentially personal and identifying information about LGBT people certainly is. But more so, if Tony Lima’s reported address honoring these guys is correct that goes beyond the pale. His pre-trial exoneration of these men is irresponsible, highly insensitive to the victims and just plain stupid.
We’ve had a long history of inviting homophobic people into our reality after they’ve done/said some atrocious things. Principally for the purpose of education. Again, that’s not new or problematic. It’s progress. But all other things considered, this is inexcusable. Ironically, Tony’s address will probably hurt these guys cases versus help them. And sadly, but appropriately, Tony may lose his role soon.
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