Things That Matter

Mollie Tibbetts’ Parents Are Pleading With People Not To Use Her Death For Anti-Immigrant Agendas

The tragic murder of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts has become an anti-immigration talking point that have some calling it an example of the flawed U.S. immigration system. Tibbetts’s parents have asked politicians and fellow Americans not to politicize the tragic death. Cristhian Rivera, the 24-year-old who’s been charged for the murder of Tibbetts, has been the focal point of discussion because of his legal status in the U.S.

So many questions remain concerning the death of Mollie Tibbetts and how this tragedy ever happened.

Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa student, was found dead buried beneath cornstalks on a farm outside Brooklyn, Iowa. She had been missing for over a month after she was was last seen on July 18 jogging near her home. Rivera, who illegally came to the United States at age 17, was charged with her murder on August 22 after he confessed to following Tibbetts on her run. Investigators used surveillance footage to track down Rivera and found video showed Rivera’s car following Tibbetts.

In an arrest affidavit, Rivera said he remembered getting mad at her; what happened afterwards is “blocked” from his memory. A preliminary report from autopsy on Tibbetts’ body shows that her death was a “homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries,” the Iowa State Medical Examiner said.

Back-and-forth claims have caused public confusion around Rivera’s legal status including him using a second name.

For the last four years, Rivera worked at Yarrabee Farms, a dairy farm owned by the family of former Iowa GOP official Craig Lang, which initially claimed that Rivera had been vetted as legal to work through the government’s e-Verify system. Yarrabee Farms has since learned he applied for the job under a different name and provided false identification, including a state-issued government ID and social security number. Manager Dale Lang admitted that they didn’t actually vet him through e-Verify as originally stated; according to the Des Moines Register, they erroneously assumed e-Verify was the same as the Social Security Administration’s number verification service, which does not check immigration status or eligibility to work in the U.S

Rivera’s attorney, Allan M. Richards, has acknowledged that Rivera was paid under a different name, but has continued to dispute claims that his client is in the country illegally. Rivera has paid taxes for years and has no criminal record Richards said. He has also implied that his client would have been eligible for citizenship under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) yet there is no record of Rivera making any DACA requests.

While there are questions surrounding the murder case, including the legal status of Rivera and the motive, the family does not want Tibbetts’s death politicized.

Coverage surrounding the tragic murder of Tibbetts has been a two sided story that has seen some media outlets use Rivera’s legal status as the leading narrative. President Donald Trump has led the argument that this case shows the need to maintain stricter border security and kick out undocumented immigrants. Even the White House Twitter account posted a video with accounts of people whose family members had been killed by undocumented immigrants.

“A person came in from Mexico illegally and killed her,” Trump said in a Twitter post. “We need the wall, we need our immigration laws changed, we need our border laws changed, we need Republicans to do it because the Democrats aren’t going to do it.”

The Tibbetts family is trying to put the focus back on Mollie’s death and not the immigration narrative the media has created.

Tibbetts’s cousin, Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, wrote in a Facebook post that Rivera’s legal status doesn’t matter because the tragedy was a result of toxic masculinity, as opposed to a man simply immigrating to the United States.

“He is a man, whose path in life crossed that of Mollie’s life, with tragic results,” Murphy wrote. “He is a man who felt entitled to impose himself on Mollie’s life, without consequence. He is a man who, because of his sense of male entitlement, refused to allow Mollie the right to reject his advances — the right to her own autonomy.”

Instead of using this tragedy to divide a community, many are using to come together.

At least two Iowa festivals dedicated to Latino heritage and scheduled this past weekend were cancelled days before citing heated rhetoric about Hispanics. Manny Galvez, organizer of the Iowa City Latino Festival, said the decision to postpone Saturday’s event was based on “respect for Mollie, her family and friends.” Instead community members of Perry, Iowa came to hold a “Peace, Love and Unity Rally” due to the cancellation of the ¡Viva Perry! Latino Festival.

Rob Tibbetts, the father of Mollie Tibbetts, eulogized his 20-year-old daughter on Sunday that included messages to the Iowa community calling for a refocus on her life. The rally and burial of Tibbetts over the weekend is the turning of a new page. It brings hope that Mollie’s death won’t be remembered as an anti-immigration talking point but a terrible tragedy that brought an entire community together.

“The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” Rob Tibbetts said at his daughters funeral. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”


READ: Immigration Officers Now Claim A Pregnant Woman’s Husband Is Wanted For Murder In Mexico After A Controversial Arrest

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Hundreds Gather to Mourn Yadhira Romero Martinez, Who Was Violently Murdered in Minnesota

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Hundreds Gather to Mourn Yadhira Romero Martinez, Who Was Violently Murdered in Minnesota

Photo via GoFundMe

Last Thursday, 19-year-old Yadhira Romero Martinez left work. Her housemate, Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga’s, picked her up and drove her home. Surveillance footage showed her entering her home with Cuenca-Zuniga at 6pm. After that, no one ever heard from her again.

On Friday, authorities found Yadhira Romero Martinez dead in the room she rented in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Police found her “with a plastic bag lying across her forehead and wearing only a T-shirt.” There were bruises on her face and her neck. She had “what appeared to be handprints outlined in blood on her thighs.”

Yadhira Romero Martinez rented a room from a woman who owned a home in Minneapolis. She shared the house with at least one other renter, the aforementioned Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga. Romero Martinez had moved from Mexico to Minneapolis last September. According to her family, she had moved to the U.S. for “a better life”.

By Friday, the homeowner realized that something was wrong. Through a cracked door, she saw Romero Martinez laying unconscious on her bed.

Cuenca-Zuniga told the homeowner that Yadhira had simply had too much to drink. But shortly after, the young man packed his belongings and fled. The homeowner then called the authorities after repeatedly knocking on the door and getting no answer.

On Sunday, police tracked down Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga in Ohio, where he had fled. Police have since charged Cuenca-Zuniga with intentional second-degree murder.

Yadhira’s family, as well as the Minneapolis community at large, are grieving over the death of a bright young woman who “didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”

On Saturday, hundreds gathered in Minneapolis to attend the vigil of Yadhira Romero Martinez. Many of the mourners spoke about how the young woman’s murder was an act of misogynistic femicide.

“I didn’t know Yadhira, but I’m here because I’m a woman, like her, and I’m an immigrant, like her,” said one of the attendees to Fox 9 News. “And I’m scared that that’s going to happen to me.”

“It breaks my heart seeing just a Hispanic woman, lady, that gets her life taken away, you know, without doing nothing, without harming nobody,” said vigil attendee, Cesar Vence to WCCO. “Why do these things have to happen, you know, to a young lady that just comes from Mexico to work and support her family?”

On Facebook, Yadhira’s cousin, Jun Romero, wrote a passionate eulogy that doubled as a call-to-action.

“To have her life taken so soon to such a violent and disgusting way was something she didn’t deserve. No one deserves that,” he wrote. “She was my cousin. She was a daughter. She was a sister. SHE WAS A PERSON. I love her and I will miss her.”

He finished his post with: “Please protect your sisters and educate your boys/men. Machismo, sexism, and violence exist in every nook and cranny of our lives no matter how small. If you see it, stop it. Unlearn to stay silent in these matters for the sake of women and fem-presenting people everywhere. She didn’t deserve this and you don’t either.”

Her family set up a GoFundMe page to raise enough funds to “transport her body to Mexico so her parents can do a funeral service”. You can donate here.

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

Like many street vendors, 45-year-old Lorenzo Pérez sold food to support his family.

Married and the father of four children ages 15, 13, 9, and 1, Perez is described by friends and family as being well known amongst neighborhood residents. He was often seen working alongside his daughter who helped him on occasion. Now, the community and family who knew Perez well are in mourning, after he was shot in broad daylight while doing his job.

Perez died after he being shot in the head in southeast Fresno on Sunday afternoon.

Fresno Police were called to the scene of a possible robbery at Alta and Pierce Avenues, near Kings Canyon and Willow around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. On the way to the scene, the police officers learned that a street vendor had been shot once in the head.

According to reports, Perez was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center where he ultimately died.

Witnesses of the murder told officers that a man had beckoned Perez to come over to him in a way that suggested he was going to purchase something from him.

According to police reports, when Perez walked up to the suspect, the man pulled out a gun and shot the vendor. He then stole a few items, which have not been identified, and flew the scene. Witnesses told police officers that they’d seen the man loitering around the area before the shooting.

A local news station reported that “Officers are now looking into surveillance footage from the area to try and identify the shooter… Through a statement, Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez announced that he will be offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the shooter’s arrest.”

“The coward that murdered our food vendor, turn yourself in and face the consequences. You’ve brought tremendous pain to a family and our city,” Chavez exclaimed in the statement.

To help the Perez family, Councilmember Esmeralda Soria set up a GoFundMe account which has already raised $141,780 out of its $125,000 goal.

Perez’s son, Isai, described his father in a recent interview as a “great man.”

“My father was a great man. He was a great father, a great husband, a great friend,” he said in an interview. “He spread love and kindness. He was about fairness, he wanted to share his happiness. He meant no harm. He didn’t deserve to go like this. The person who killed my dad took away a part of me. My dad went through everything for us. He took away my father. He took away the opportunity of me being with him in his last moments and it’s heartbreaking. I hope they find the murderer soon.”

If you have any information on the shooting please call Valley Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

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