The Unity Coalition will be having a shift of topics this year with its State of Hate Workshop, focusing on hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.
The yearly event, which has been happening since 2011, looks to orient and encourage attendees to listen and learn about hate crimes against all groups and proper steps for reporting them.
This year, however, after the Orlando shooting at Pulse Nightclub, in which many victims were part of the LGBTQ community, the Unity Coalition decided to focus on crime and discrimination, sexual orientation, hate and perception. People who live in South Florida, they said, may feel more vulnerable.
“What occurred in Orlando, and unfortunately in other communities, has affected me personally,” said Herb Sosa, executive director of Unity Coalition, Coalicion Unida. “It’s something that hits home; knowing people that were in the club; knowing people who will have months, years of recovery, so it absolutely has changed me. Living in South Florida, with such an open, diverse, tourist-driven community, I’m very aware of the possibilities of the world we’re living in [and] that something along that line could possibly happen here.”
The Unity Coalition is welcoming members of the public to join its forum at the Miami Beach Community Church on Saturday to discuss violence, bullying and hate crimes and how to report them. Various panelists and active community members will participate in the discussions. The forum is open to the public, upon registration on unitycoalition.org.
One area to be discussed will be transgender issues. Aryah Lester, a speaker at Saturday’s State of Hate Workshop, wants to address the relationship between being transgender and interacting with law enforcement.
“Being a transgender woman of color and the director of Trans-Miami, I deal with a lot of trans issues,” said Lester, who is also board member at Unity Coalition. “One of the things in the forefront when it comes to issues that the transgender community really feels is prevalent, is dealing with police when it comes to wanting to call the police when the transgender person is a victim, because people have experienced times when it was redirected and they became the criminal when they were actually the victim.”
Angel Torres, who witnessed the Orlando shooting, and Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates will also speak.
Oates will talk about law enforcement and the communication between the community and the police when reporting a hate crime, as well as highlighting the stance and safety of the LGBT community in South Florida.
“The relationship between the Miami Beach Police Department and the LGBT community is very strong,” said Oates. “The incident in Orlando heightened everyone’s awareness about the vulnerability of nightclubs in general and the gay-centered nightclubs in particular. I’m always happy to speak at any public forum and give what I call a ‘law-enforcement perspective.’ ”
If you go:
What: State of Hate Workshop
Where: Miami Beach Community Church, 1620 Drexel Ave.