STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Iowans receive this racist robocall

White supremacists are using Mollie Tibbetts' death to advance their racist agenda.

Posted: Sep 3, 2018 3:11 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2018 3:29 PM

Since authorities revealed the suspect in the killing of Mollie Tibbetts is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, Iowa's Latino communities have been the target of rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

But the father of the late 20-year-old college student has had enough. He's spoken out, and he has a message: Don't exploit my daughter's death to promote a racist agenda.

"I encourage the debate on immigration; there is great merit in its reasonable outcome," Tibbetts wrote in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register on Saturday. "But do not appropriate Mollie's soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist."

Mollie Tibbetts disappeared during an evening jog in Brooklyn, Iowa, on July 18. After her body was discovered last month, authorities identified the suspect in her killing as an undocumented immigrant.

Several politicians and pundits used the news to make political arguments about immigration law, but many stopped after a plea from the family, Tibbetts said in the op-ed.

"Sadly, others have ignored our request," he wrote. "They have instead chosen to callously distort and corrupt Mollie's tragic death to advance a cause she vehemently opposed."

Tibbetts doesn't want to see his daughter used as a "pawn in others' debate," he said.

"She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate. Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie's memory, I'm imploring you to stop."

A message for the Hispanic community

Rob Tibbetts also addressed animosity towards immigrants at his daughter's funeral last Sunday, when he said "the Hispanic community are Iowans," according to the Register. "They have the same values as Iowans. As far as I'm concerned, they're Iowans with better food."

He echoed that sentiment in his Saturday op-ed, delivering a message directly to those who have been targeted by anti-immigrant graffiti and racist robocalls.

"The person who is accused of taking Mollie's life is no more a refection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people," he said. "To suggest otherwise is a lie," he wrote.

"To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology."

"That you've been beset by the circumstances of Mollie's death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody."

"And yes," Tibbetts added, "we love your food."

His stepdaughter, "whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina," he wrote, as are Mollie's "cherished" nephews. And as an American, he said, he endeavors to "respect every citizen of the world," adding that, "to knowingly foment discord among races is a disgrace to our flag."

"It incites fear in innocent communities and lends legitimacy to the darkest, most hate-filled corners of the American soul. It is the opposite of leadership. It is the opposite of humanity. It is heartless. It is despicable. It is shameful."

'Build bridges, not walls'

Americans should learn from the lessons imparted by not only his daughter, but also the late Sen. John McCain and singer Aretha Franklin, who taught "humanity, fairness and courage," Tibbetts wrote.

The search for his daughter brought many people of different backgrounds together to work for a common cause, he said. "Let's not lose sight of that miracle."

Americans should instead confront racism in whatever form, Tibbetts wrote, and treat others with the same compassion that the country gave his daughter when it rallied together to bring her home.

"Let's listen, not shout. Let's build bridges, not walls."

"Let's celebrate our diversity rather than argue over our differences. I can tell you, when you've lost your best friend, differences are petty and meaningless."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 14372

Reported Deaths: 693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds92024
Lauderdale69957
Madison68721
Scott62310
Neshoba56534
Jones52519
Forrest51137
DeSoto4936
Leake39512
Rankin3736
Holmes37324
Jackson30013
Copiah2854
Attala27715
Monroe25324
Leflore25030
Lincoln25022
Newton2504
Harrison2457
Lamar2275
Yazoo2233
Pearl River20731
Pike20211
Adams19015
Lowndes1828
Noxubee1696
Washington1636
Warren1587
Oktibbeha15010
Bolivar14911
Wayne1480
Jasper1483
Covington1411
Clarke13517
Smith13311
Kemper13110
Chickasaw12812
Lafayette1254
Lee1175
Carroll11410
Coahoma1133
Marion1129
Winston1051
Clay1043
Lawrence991
Simpson930
Hancock8711
Yalobusha855
Wilkinson859
Itawamba857
Grenada823
Montgomery811
Sunflower783
Union785
Marshall763
Jefferson Davis752
Tippah7111
Tate691
Panola643
Claiborne642
Calhoun614
Webster591
Amite561
Humphreys537
Tunica523
Walthall510
Perry492
Prentiss413
Jefferson400
Choctaw352
Stone300
Pontotoc283
Franklin272
Tishomingo260
Quitman250
Tallahatchie251
George201
Benton140
Alcorn141
Greene111
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16310

Reported Deaths: 590
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2085112
Jefferson167397
Montgomery144634
Marshall6609
Tuscaloosa63212
Lee52632
Franklin4986
Shelby47019
Tallapoosa41063
Butler39113
Chambers34024
Madison3154
Elmore3007
Baldwin2829
Walker2821
DeKalb2403
Etowah24011
Dallas2323
Coffee2191
Lowndes21610
Morgan2111
Sumter2106
Autauga1923
Houston1854
Bullock1763
Pike1730
Colbert1612
Calhoun1523
Marengo1506
Choctaw1487
Russell1480
Lauderdale1452
Hale1416
Wilcox1327
Barbour1301
Clarke1282
Randolph1247
Marion11711
St. Clair1081
Pickens964
Dale960
Talladega963
Chilton931
Greene914
Cullman880
Limestone860
Winston770
Covington751
Jackson742
Bibb711
Henry702
Macon672
Crenshaw662
Washington656
Blount531
Escambia483
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Perry360
Conecuh351
Coosa341
Monroe342
Cherokee332
Clay272
Lamar210
Cleburne131
Fayette130
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather