Sandy Hook Mom Stands Up To Roger Stone Over WikiLeaks Conspiracy Theory

"Be careful when you mess with the bereaved."

A Sandy Hook mom is calling on Roger Stone to leave the family of Seth Rich alone.

Stone, a political operative for the Republican party, has been stoking conspiracies around the story of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in a Washington D.C. suburb on July 16, 2016. While authorities ruled the murder a botched robbery, online conspiracy theorists have spread rumors that Rich was connected to WikiLeaks and may have been murdered at the instruction of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a punishment for leaking her emails.  

Eventually, those conspiracy theories made their way into the mainstream: Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeted about the case and even did special segments on the murder until the family asked him to stop. Alex Jones repeatedly prodded Rich's death to his millions of listeners. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich questioned the story on national television. 

Meanwhile, Rich's family has repeatedly asked that others refrain from using their son as a political chess piece, and at one point a representative in the family said, "I think there is a special place in hell" for people who spread conspiracies about Seth.

Still, Stone and others have persisted in the spotlight while promoting conspiracies. A few weeks ago, Jones appeared on Megyn Kelly's new show on NBC, which drew criticism across the country. Some of the loudest voices in that criticism were the parents of Sandy Hook victims who had heard Jones call the worst elementary school shooting in United States' history a hoax. One of them was Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace was killed in the shooting. 

And, when Stone took to Twitter on Monday to hype the Rich conspiracy, Márquez-Greene had enough. 

"Does anyone else thinks it's odd that Seth Rich's parents have no interest in finding out who killed their son? #payoff?" Stone wrote on Twitter Monday, on the anniversary of Rich's death.

In response, Márquez-Greene wrote an op-ed in The Atlantic standing up for bereaved parents everywhere, and reminding Stone that his words have consequences.

"I am finally willing to accept that Ana was brutally taken from us," Márquez-Greene wrote. "I am willing to accept that my husband and I have joined a large but mostly marginalized tribe called "bereaved parents." But I am not willing to accept that we live in an America that normalizes the abuse of bereaved parents who lose their loved ones to tragedy."

Márquez-Greene pointed out that while we still have a ways to go in understanding grief and loss, it's unreasonable to expect survivors of high-profile tragedies to withstand public attacks from conspiracies. She even concedes that healthy questioning of government and people is important, though she makes it clear that is not how she sees Stone and his ilk.

"You intentionally use your platform to espouse theories debunked by law enforcement and that a bereaved family has expressly asked you to stop promoting," she wrote. "Your actions have real consequences for those of us grieving."

Márquez-Greene also noted another simple fact: bereaved parents and family members from high-profile tragedies are no longer remaining quiet in the face of these conspiracies. Like Márquez-Greene, others have begun speaking out about the real-life consequences of online conspiracies. Even the owner of Comet Ping Pong, the pizza shop in Washington D.C. caught up in a conspiracy that led to an armed gunman firing a round inside the restaurant, has been outspoken about the damage the conspiracy has done. 

"Be careful when you mess with the bereaved," Márquez-Greene wrote. "We are starting to speak out and stand up for each other. Hear the rally cry of a small but fearless group of hurting people reminding you that this isn't funny. This is real."

Cover photo: Shutterstock / lev radin


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