A woman killed when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville was remembered Wednesday at a memorial service in the Virginia college city.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed after hours of clashes Saturday between white nationalists attending a “Unite the Right” gathering and people who were protesting that rally.
Mark Heyer, her father, told the audience of about 1,000 people at the memorial service that no father should have to bury his child. He said his daughter wanted to put down hatred.
The service for Heyer was held at the site of the deadly rally. Many of those attending wore purple, Heyer’s favorite color, in her memory.
Mark Heyer said, “Heather’s passion extended to her ideas and her thoughts. She could tell if someone wasn’t being straight with her, and she’d call them on it.”
Heyer, who lived in Charlottesville, was among the hundreds of protesters who had gathered there Saturday to decry what was believed to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in a decade — including those who support Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews and members of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization with a long history of violence against black people and other minorities. They descended on Charlottesville for a rally prompted by the city’s decision to remove a monument to Robert E. Lee, a Confederate Army general during the Civil War.
Chaos and violence erupted before the event began, with counterdemonstrators and rallygoers clashing in the streets.
Authorities broke up the gathering, and groups began roaming through town. Counterprotesters had converged for a march along a downtown street when suddenly a car barreled into them, hurling people into the air. Video shows the car reversing and hitting more people. Nineteen were injured.
The Ohio man who police say was driving, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., was described by a former high school teacher as an admirer of Hitler and his Nazi Party, which controlled Germany during World War II and carried out the murder of about 6 million Jews. Fields was quickly taken into custody and has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.
President Trump was criticized by people from both major political parties over his initial response, in which he blamed “many sides” for the unrest.
On Monday, the Republican president bowed to political pressure and denounced neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan by name, but Tuesday he raised tensions again by insisting that counterprotesters were also to blame.
Residents of the usually quiet, liberal-leaning Virginia city were horrified by the weekend violence they said was brought by outsiders.
“The way [Heyer] lost her life, doing what she did, really stood for Charlottesville. It makes me wish that I knew her,” said Sam Welty, 42. “It’s a shame that people who don’t live here had to come and unleash hate and violence and put Charlottesville on the world map for something that it does not deserve.”