Iowa Latino festivals postponed in wake of Mollie Tibbetts murder

Iowa Latino festivals postponed in wake of Mollie Tibbetts murder
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Two Iowa Latino festivals were canceled this week in the wake of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts's murder.

Hispanics United for Perry (HUP) of Perry, Iowa, announced Thursday that it would indefinitely postpone the annual ¡Viva Perry! Latino Festival that was scheduled to be held Saturday, The Perry News reported.

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“In making this decision, we considered all the work that went into planning and promoting that has already occurred,” HUP President Rosa Gonzalez said. “We apologize for any inconvenience to all who made plans to attend the festival. It is hard to cancel a joyous event celebrating the Latino heritage of many of Perry’s residents.”

It is unclear if or when the festival will be rescheduled.

A similar festival to be held in Iowa City has also been canceled, KCCI 8 News reported Friday. 

“This tragic event should be a reason to work even harder to eliminate gender-based violence; we are mourning as everybody the loss of Mollie Tibbetts, Sadie Alvarado and all the women that have lost their lives in a way that it is difficult to understand and assimilate,” Iowa City Latino Festival said in a statement. 

The announcements follow the arrest of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, who was charged this week in connection with Tibbetts's murder. Law enforcement has identified him as an undocumented immigrant, but his lawyer has disputed that claim.

Tibbetts's body was found this week after having been missing for more than a month. She had disappeared while jogging in the town of Brooklyn, Iowa. Her cause of death in a preliminary report was listed as a "homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries," the Iowa State Medical Examiner told CNN.

Mary Murphy, a member of the HUP board, told the newspaper that the decision to cancel the event “came down to safety.” The anti-immigrant “fury” following Tibbetts's death and the arrest of her alleged murderer became cause for concern, Murphy said.

Tibbetts's death has reignited the immigration debate, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE holding up her murder as a call for stricter immigration laws.

"[Tibbetts] was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here, found by [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], our great ICE who’s abused by the Democrats and the left, and without them you might not be sitting here so comfortably right now," Trump told "Fox & Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt during an interview that aired Thursday.

"I just think it's so sad. We're building the wall. It's already started. … The wall is going up. A lot of people don't know that. I'd like to build it even faster, but dealing with the Democrats is very tough," Trump said.

Rivera’s attorney Allen Richards has denied that his client was in the country illegally and called Trump “sad and sorry” for weighing in on the matter and potentially tainting a jury selection.

A few members of Tibbetts’s family have appeared to push back on the immigration rhetoric surrounding the student’s death.

Samantha Lucas, Tibbetts's second cousin, said the slain student would not want her death to be used as “fuel against undocumented immigrants.”