In the days following news reports that the man who murdered Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student who was killed in July, was an undocumented immigrant her death has quickly become swept up in the strings of politics. Similar to the story of Kate Steinle, whose 2015 murder was leveraged by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for the 2016 election to push his platform, Tibbetts’ murder is being wielded by conservatives in an effort to push their own immigration agendas.
In a series of recent posts by members of Tibbett’s family, those close to her are saying the politicizing is enough.
In a recent post to her Facebook page, Tibbett’s aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, asked followers to stop using her death for political leverage.
Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color. Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support…
“Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color,” Calderwood wrote in a post to her Facebook page. “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.”
Earlier this week, Tibbetts’ second cousin Samantha Lucas used Twitter to speak out against those who used Tibbetts to speak against undocumented immigrants. “Hey I’m a member of mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals,” she replied to a tweet by conservative figurehead Candace Owens. “Now stop being a fucking snake and using my cousins death as political propaganda. take her name out of your mouth.”
On Wednesday, Tibbetts’ brother Jake spoke at a vigil for his sister and reminded the crowd of how people across the country were able to come together to support her family in the days after her death. “Remember this as a time that the country came together for one girl. One girl that loved everyone. One girl that loved everything and wanted the best for everyone. Don’t remember this as the time that someone made a very poor decision and took a girl away,” he said.
Many of those seeking justice for Tibbetts and her family have been quick to point out a significant commonality between the student and recent murder victims
So how do you frame the narrative of those women who are killed by men who are American citizens? Are their deaths somehow less? The majority of immigrants, legal or not, are NOT murderers, rapists, or criminals.
— ????Melissa Amateis???? (@WW2HistoryGal) August 22, 2018
Like Tibbetts, Shanann Watts, a Denver area woman who was murdered along with her children, was killed by a man. Recent studies have shown that toxic masculinity is closely linked to “shows of strength and aggression.” In 2017, the study found that “1,600 women were murdered by men in 2015 and the most common weapon used was a gun.”
Of course, many have also highlighted how quick Trump’s administration has been to pounce on Tibbetts murder.
I'm an Iowan & agree with you 100%! When @VP visited IA 2 weeks ago, Pence met w Mollie's Dad, who told him he did NOT want his dtr's case to be used as a partisan issue/talking point under ANY circumstances! Pence's official statement today violated his promise 2 Mr. Tibbet's
— Christy (@NordicPhoenix) August 22, 2018
After meeting with Tibbetts family, Vice President Pence tweeted, “Heartbroken by the news about Mollie Tibbetts. We commend the swift action by local, state, & federal investigators working in Iowa in apprehending an illegal immigrant, who’s now charged with first-degree murder.”
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