The board of directors of Miami-based gay-rights group SAVE has placed its executive director on paid leave amid an inquiry into why, during the group’s recent Pride gala, he praised four men accused of attacking a gay couple on South Beach.
“Over the past 48 hours, much has transpired regarding the events that unfolded during the SAVE Champions of Equality Gala on June 14, 2019. We have fielded many calls from the community regarding the details of that night and are working diligently to provide answers,” the SAVE board said in a statement released to the Miami Herald.
“In the interest of being able to best and most thoroughly respond to these concerns, we have placed Executive Director Tony Lima on paid administrative leave while we conduct an objective and thorough review of the events that took place.”
SAVE’s directors and Lima, who has run the prominent LGBTQ advocacy non-profit since 2013, have been heavily criticized since the South Florida Gay News reported Wednesday that Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso Piovet, Adonis Diaz and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa attended the organization’s gala. Lima reportedly announced that the men had been “wrongly accused.”
The men were arrested in the attack last year Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov while the couple walked hand-in-hand along the street shortly after the conclusion of a Miami Beach Pride parade. The suspects were charged last year under Florida’s hate-crime enhancement law, and have pleaded not guilty.
Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.