Editor’s note: Mollie Tibbetts, age 20, of Brooklyn, Iowa, was murdered in July, and in August, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a Latino immigrant, was arrested and charged in her death. On Sept. 1, the Des Moines Register published a guest editorial from Mollie’s father, Ron, in which he criticized politicians and pundits who used Mollie’s death as a basis to attack immigrants. He urged those who are attacking immigrants to “not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist.” Below are other excerpts from Ron Tibbetts’ statement.
“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.
“My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons—Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren—are Latino. That means I am Hispanic. I am African. I am Asian. I am European. My blood runs from every corner of the earth because I am American.
“Knowing 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.”