Mollie Tibbetts’ Family Members Are Pushing Back Against People Who Are Politicizing Her Death
Local authorities said on Tuesday that they had found the body of a 20-year-old Iowa College student who went missing in late July. Law enforcement officials reportedly arrested an undocumented immigrant on first-degree murder charges in relation to her death — a detail that has led to widespread anti-immigration rhetoric online. Now, people who say they are Mollie Tibbetts' relatives are calling out those anti-immigration responses on social media.
According to Iowa's KWWL station, Tibbetts' aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, shared her thoughts on Facebook on Tuesday night. (That was the same night Trump spoke of Tibbetts' death at a rally in West Virginia, saying that it "should've never happened" and calling current immigration laws a "disgrace.") On Facebook, Calderwood wrote:
Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color. Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Calderwood also shared another Facebook post from a woman named Kasie Schultz Taylor. "What happened to Mollie was an awful, heinous act," Schultz Taylor wrote. "But please do not compound the atrocity of what happened to her by adding racism and hate to the equation. Everyone joined together supporting her family, providing food and drink to search parties and agents, hung posters, searched fields, worked TOGETHER to make #FindMollieTibbetts, #findingmollietibbetts, #bringmolliehome go viral!"
Schultz Taylor told people not to turn the movement for finding Tibbett into something "ugly." "Anyone that knew Mollie knows she wouldn’t want that," she added. "Respect each other, support each other but most importantly BE KIND!"
While Calderwood and Schultz Taylor took to Facebook to express their concerns over anti-immigration and anti-immigrant rhetoric, others on Twitter spoke their minds in front of conservative commentators. One woman named Sam Lucas entered a Twitter altercation with pro-Trump conservative figure Candance Owens. In her original tweet, Owens attempted to deride "leftists" as they, she said, "boycotted, screamed, and cried when illegal immigrants were temporarily separated from from their parents."
In her Tibbetts tweet, Owens was referring to the "zero tolerance" immigration stance Trump's administration took toward immigrants crossing the American and Mexican border. According to the Department of Homeland Security, over 2,000 immigrant children had been torn away from their parents as a result of the current government's policy.
Slamming Owens, Lucas said, "Hey, I'm a member of Mollie’s family and we are not so f**king small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals. Now stop being a f**king snake and using my cousins death as political propaganda. Take her name out of your mouth."
In addition to Lucas, Schultz Taylor, and Calderwood condemning anti-immigration rhetoric, media outlets have also pushed against the unsubstantiated notion that immigrants are more likely to commit crime. In one case, Vox's German Lopez cited a Pew Research Center study which concluded that when it comes to committing criminal activity, the tendency was much higher among U.S.-born Americans as opposed to immigrants.