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Latino Iowans Rally To Honor Mollie Tibbetts, Unite Against Hate

Katarina Sostaric
Members of Iowa's Latino community held a vigil to honor Mollie Tibbetts and unite against hateful messages Thursday, August 31, 2018.

Members of Iowa’s Latino community gathered at the state capitol Thursday to honor the memory of Mollie Tibbetts and to unite against hateful rhetoric.

Vanessa Marcano-Kelly translated Lincon Guerra’s words.

“We are meeting here today in an act of solidarity and moral support to her family and loved ones, asking them to receive our deepest condolences and prayers.”

They released balloons, had a moment of silence, and prayed for Tibbetts, her family and others affected by violence.

Iowans have seen and heard hateful messages about Latinos in recent days after investigators said the man charged in Tibbetts’ killing is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

This week, Iowa Starting Line first reported some people in the state received robocalls apparently from a white supremacist group. The calls used disturbing language to describe Mexican people and called for the deportation of 58 million Latino people.

The call also says Tibbetts would want to “kill them all,” even though her family members have said the opposite.

On Thursday, the phrase “deport illegals” was found painted on a road on Des Moines’ south side.

“We have never had this type of hate ever in the 60-plus years that I can remember,” said Joe Enriquez Henry, president of the local council of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

He says everyone needs to come together to protect each other, and that elected officials need to step up.

“We need a stronger message that hate will not be tolerated,” Henry said. “And we need to do everything we can in every public institution: within the schools, through the police department, from city hall too, to stop the hate rhetoric, to educate the community that this needs to stop.”

Henry said Gov. Kim Reynolds’ call for stricter immigration enforcement after murder charges were filed in Tibbetts’ death “did not help.”

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter