Last Night: In Miami Beach, World AIDS Day Prompts Hate Crime Discussion

"I refuse to let HIV erase my generation," Herb Sosa said last night, and then shook his head. "This is not our story."

The president of Unity Coalition, a gay Latino civil rights initiative, spoke yesterday in honor of World AIDS Day. And if you were on Lincoln Road around 6 p.m., you might have caught a glimpse. A crowd of 100 or so gathered at the intersection of Washington Avenue, holding pink glow sticks and sporting black T-shirts that read Stand Against Stigma. It was a vigil to honor AIDS awareness-- Dec. 1 -- but afterwards, in Miami Beach, LGBT leaders were on to another topic: Gay hate crime. In South Beach, of all places.

Sosa talked about a gay singer who was followed home from South Beach, hogtied, tortured, and murdered. Then, more recently, a Miami Beach community leader was attacked walking home with his partner. And another young gay man was found dead in his apartment. "The laws need to be stricter," Sosa asserted. He explained authorities are rarely able to document and prosecute the incidents as hate crimes because of the amount of evidence required. "The [Miami Beach Department's] numbers are very different than ours, and that's a problem."

"These things shouldn't happen anywhere," He says. "And they certainly shouldn't happen here."

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