As Mollie Tibbetts‘ family grieves, they have also taken time to shut down bigotry. Weeks after she first went missing, Cristhian Bahena Rivera – a Latino man arrested in connection to her murder – led police to her body. Conservatives quickly jumped into the conversation to denounce immigration (Bahena’s immigration status has been contested) as the reason for her death, but her family has refused to let her death become a strike against immigration. Her father, Rob Tibbetts, has said that the Latino community has reached out to the family during this difficult time.
On Sunday, in front of a crowd of more than 1,000, Rob explained that the Latino community embraced him those weeks he spent searching for his daughter in Brooklyn, Iowa. “The Hispanic community are Iowans,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”
Though Rob didn’t explicitly name President Donald Trump in his speech, his words are a stark difference from the way the leader of the United States has characterized this community. And instead of placing focus on Bahena, Rob said we should be “celebrating something wonderful.”
“Today, we need to turn the page,” he added. “We’re at the end of a long ordeal. But we need to turn toward life – Mollie’s life – because Mollie is nobody’s victim. Mollie is my hero.”