La Cosa Nuestra

Page 3 of 4

6. Nathaniel Wilcox, capo. Wilcox, age 48, is executive director of PULSE, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, another family-values outfit. "Our concern is making sure that the moral compass of this community is not determined by people who don't have any morals. That's the bottom line," Wilcox declares. "We've learned how to network. When it came down to having a Civilian Investigative Panel we had to network with the Cuban community to make change. Dealing with these moral issues, we're networking with the Hispanic community in order to bring about change. And change many times takes time, and we have time. So we are not going away and we are going to strengthen our networking ability within the Hispanic community, identifying more individuals in the black community who understand what exactly the evils in the process are."

7. Rev. Joe Silas, capo. Silas serves as the president of PULSE. "We have formed a coalition with the Cuban community, or should I say that portion that deals with Take Back Miami-Dade. And we are going in it for the long haul. Because they see discrimination and racism against the black community as an evil. Also it's permeated by Alex Penelas. He is lying to the community, the black community of course. He has hoodwinked them, he has bamboozled our black politicians. He has used them to his wants and his desires. Then he kicks them to the side. In other words he has been a Judas. He has done nothing for our community."

8. Rev. Willie Sims, soldier. Sims is rumored to have entered the Witness Protection Program after an eleventh-hour betrayal of an oath to vote for repeal. For months the president of the African American Council of Christian Clergy (AACCC) had remained loyal. But that drew heat from his bosses at the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board, whose mission is to thwart prejudice and promote tolerance. On election eve, Sims flipped: "As a long-time fighter against discrimination, I certainly don't want to be party to any blatant acts of discrimination against any group of people," he stated. "I have discussed this with many people in the civil rights field and I value their opinions. Please let it be made extremely clear that as an Ordained Minister of the Gospel, I still believe that the homosexual lifestyle is morally wrong and an abomination in the eyesight of God. However, I don't think this gives us the right to discriminate against the gay community." Accusing Sims of committing a Judas-like sellout, Silas condemned him: "Any minister get up there and try to serve Mammon and God, too, is a liar!"

9. Rev. Richard Bennett, Jr., soldier. The 45-year-old AACCC executive director earned stripes for his tireless leafleting during the Vote Yes campaign and for fearlessly challenging old-guard black leaders such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s top associates. The flyers, distributed at churches in Miami-Dade's black community, included one of Bennett's own eloquent quotes: "To compare the sexual preference amendment to the civil rights movement is embarrassing. It's nothing but a smokescreen. Our forefathers fought for us to ride the bus, be able to go to restaurants. The civil rights movement has nothing to do with homosexuality." The flyer also quoted Shuttlesworth saying, "It is wrong to equate homosexuality with civil rights." Shuttlesworth, when he learned Take Back had used his name for the repeal campaign, issued this statement: "Discrimination against any group of people is morally wrong. Racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia are all unacceptable forms of hatred, and as a minister I cannot subscribe to any form of hatred. I believe in the equality of all God's people."

10. Jorge Rodriguez, associate, owner of La Poderosa (The Powerful One). Rodriguez plays a crucial role by enabling the Take Back family to amplify its anti-homosexualist message and appear more popular than perhaps it really is. The full extent of the financial relationship between the station and the family is unknown. A week before the vote, Rodriguez announced a new late-night call-in show called Inquietudes (Apprehensions) whose mission was to foment "objective" debates and help "orient" listeners on important issues. A female caller said that soon in Miami we'll have nude marches by gays à la San Francisco. Host Miguel Melanio objectively offered his thoughts about homosexuality: "For me it is an atheism. Because if you don't respect la cosa divina, the law of God, then you don't respect anything."

11. Tomas "Tomasito" Regalado, capo. The independent-minded District 4 Miami commissioner isn't afraid to offer his frank opinion of the Underboss. "He's crazy," the 55-year-old Regalado told the press recently after Armesto complained that Channel 51 anchor Ambrosio Hernandez called him a marica (fag) during a tense interview several weeks before the election. But when it comes to public proclamations Regalado remains loyal to the Take Back creed: Anti-homosexual discrimination doesn't exist. As election day approached, two ladies from the Commission on the Status of Women asked the commissioners to pass a resolution supporting the current anti-discrimination law. Regalado did not understand. "Are you saying that we discriminate in the City of Miami? We are an equal-opportunity city. So what is the problem?" he asked the women, then said he could not support them. "I will be taking a lot of heat for this," he added. "And I'm willing to take the heat. Like Truman."

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kirk Nielsen
Contact: Kirk Nielsen

Latest Stories