BETTENDORF — People who spoke at and attended a “immigration” event in Bettendorf this week are trying to distance themselves from a racist speaker.
The event, the Quad Cities Immigration Forum, had been organized by the Scott County Teenage Republicans and was focused on illegal immigration. The Dispatch-Argus of East Moline reported that most of those who spoke either were running for office or those who had family members who had been reportedly killed by undocumented immigrants.
Nick Fuentes was the last speaker. He had attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017. At this week’s event in the Quad Cities, he made racist statements that the other speakers disagreed with.
“I had no idea who Fuentes was up until a few minutes ago,” tweeted Bobby Schilling, former congressman and Republican candidate for Iowa’s second congressional district, who spoke before Fuentes took the stage. “His rhetoric is disgusting and I want in no way to be associated with him. His racist anti-Semitic statements do not reflect my own views. I proudly support Israel and I love people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds.”
The Dispatch-Argus reported that Fuentes had not been billed to speak at the event. When the newspaper reached out to the organizers, they declined to say who invited him and how he came to be a speaker. The church that hosted the event, Pleasant View Baptist Church, had taken down their Facebook page on Tuesday.
The newspaper said that two of the other speakers called a reporter to complain about “fake media” and distance themselves from Fuentes.
“We don’t agree with Nick Fuentes’ stance at all,” said Mary Ann Mendoza. “We never would have spoken at the event had we known he was going to speak there.”
The Dispatch-Argus noted that a 2018 study in the journal Criminology concluded that “undocumented immigration does not increase violence.”